‘Mugabe judge’ reserves judgment in bond note challenge
By Zvamaida Murwira
The High Court reserved judgment on Tuesday in a case in which Harare businessman Mr Frederick Mutanda was challenging the planned introduction of bond notes arguing that the move by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was unconstitutional and an infringement of his fundamental rights.
Judge President Justice George Chiweshe, seen as a longtime Mugabe bootlicker, said he wanted to go through submissions made by the parties.
In his submission, Mr Mutanda’s lawyer, Advocate Firoz Girach, said the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act that was used to promulgate a Statutory Instrument for the introduction of the bond notes was unconstitutional in that it violated Parliament’s primary law-making role thereby encroaching on the doctrine of separation of powers.
He said the issuance of legal tender in the form of bond notes and coins was unlawful as it fell outside recognised legal tender and currencies as provided for by the RBZ Act.
“It must be noted at the outset that no attempt has been made in the opposition papers to explain how an urgent situation has arisen making it necessary to promulgate the Statutory Instrument in question,” said Adv Girach.
In his response, RBZ lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu raised several issues, including submission that the application was not urgent and that no evidence had been placed before the court to demonstrate urgency.
He said the bond notes were supported by the RBZ Act hence their issuance was lawful and slammed the applicant for the manner he challenged the Presidential Powers.
“It is not possible for a serious litigant to challenge the constitutionality of the whole Act. Is the title of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) unconstitutional, is the short title unconstitutional. A serious litigant will identify the provisions and juxtapose them with the Constitution,” said Adv Mpofu.
He said promulgation of a Statutory Instrument did not constitute usurping of Parliament’s primary lawmaking process which, in any case was subject to review by Parliament.
Presidential Powers, he said, had a life span of six months.
Adv Mpofu submitted that by challenging the issuance of bond notes, the applicant was questioning the policymaking role of the Executive.
He said issues like export incentives and measures aimed at curbing foreign currency leakages were policy decisions which rested with the Executive.
“The applicant might not love the policies of the Government but it is the Government in power,” said Adv Mpofu. The Herald