Inflation blackout challenged in court
MASVINGO High Court Judge Justice Sunsley Zisengwe on Monday 3
February 2020 reserved judgment on an application filed by a trade
union and a pensioners’ rights lobby organisation challenging Finance
and Economic Development Minister Hon. Mthuli Ncube’s unilateral
decision to withhold publication of inflation figures in Zimbabwe.
Justice Zisengwe reserved judgment after hearing arguments from
lawyers representing the National Social Security Authority Workers
Union (NSSAWU), a labour union and Zimbabwe Pension and Insurance
Rights Trust (ZPIRT), which champions the rights of pension funds
members and policyholders and those representing Hon. Ncube and the
Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.
In court, Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who
represented NSSAWU and ZPIRT argued that Hon. Ncube’s decision is
irrational, grossly unreasonable, illegal, illegitimate and violates
the principle of good governance and transparency provided for in the
Hon. Ncube in August 2019 announced the ban in publication of
annualised inflation figures to February 2020 and indicated that the
National Statistical Agency will only publish month on month inflation
However, NSSAWU and ZPIRT, which champions the rights of pension funds
members and policyholders petitioned the High Court seeking to set
aside Hon. Ncube’s decision not to publish the inflation figures.
In the application filed by Biti, NSSAWU and ZPIRT argued that Hon.
Ncube’s decision is irrational, grossly unreasonable, illegal,
illegitimate and violates the principle of good governance and
transparency provided for in Zimbabwe’s Constitution.
NSSAWU argued that as a trade union, it relies on annualised inflation
figures to negotiate increases in its members’ salaries with its
NSSAWU and ZPIRT argued that publication of annualised inflation
figures is important in that inflation is an important variable in any
economy and is a very destablising force which makes it necessary to
keep track of its movement.
NSSAWU and ZPIRT said annualised inflation assists entreprenuers in
ascertaining real trends in production, sales, purchases, profits and
When Hon. Ncube took over as Finance and Economic Development Minister
in September 2018, Zimbabwe’s annualised inflation stood at 3%.
However, in July 2019, when government last published annualised
inflation figures, the rate had risen to 175%, a figure which NSSAWU
and ZPIRT argued Hon. Ncube was keen to “hide”.
In response to NSSAWU and ZPIRT’s application, Hon. Ncube, who was
represented by Kenias Chimiti from the Attorney General’s Office
defended his decision to impose a moratorium on the publication of
annual inflation figures as justified following the change in currency
regimes in Zimbabwe.