Harare, November 16, 2016 – THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking an order to set aside a law promulgated by President Robert Mugabe legalising the introduction of the controversial bond notes at a time Zimbabweans were facing unprecedented economic hardships.
Last month, Mugabe, through an extraordinary government gazette, enacted the Presidential Powers (Temporal Measures) Amendment of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act and Issue of Bond Notes Regulations 2016 which were contained in Statutory Instrument 133 of 2016, where he legalised the imminent introduction of bond notes in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe directed that Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa could issue a fresh currency called bond notes and bond coins which will be legal tender in Zimbabwe and set the exchange rate of the bond notes against the US dollar, Zimbabwe’s main trading currency, indicating that each unit of a bond note is exchangeable for one US dollar.
But ZLHR on Monday filed an application in the High Court arguing that Mugabe acted illegally by not allowing Parliament to scrutinise such a deed and not allowing legislators to consult members of the public.
ZLHR charged thatMugabe had relied on the Presidential Powers (Temporal Measures Act) (Chapter 10:20) which is unconstitutional.
“This Act gives sweeping powers to the President of making laws virtually on every subject. It is our contention that Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy governed by the Constitution… What this means is that the President has sweeping powers to make laws that are above even laws that have been made by Parliament. Surely, this cannot be acceptable and in any event this clearly is in breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” reads part of the court application.
ZLHR wants the High Court to declare the proposed introduction of bond notes as unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
“Our first issue with the President is that in enacting the regulations, he has made a law on an important issue that affects all Zimbabweans,” ZLHR said, citing Mugabe, Chinamasa and RBZ governor John Mangudya as respondents.
The human rights organisation also wants the High Court to declare the Presidential (Temporary Measures) Act as ultra vires the Constitution and to be set aside.
The government has angered several citizens after announcing early this year that it would introduce bond notes to try and ease an agonising economic crisis marked by shortages of cash in banks, low economic activity company closres and high unemployment.
People fear that the introduction of bond notes could herald a return to the years of hyperinflation and food shortages.
However, the government is insisting that bond notes will help solve the country’s cash crisis.