ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Monday 14 November 2016 filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to set aside a law promulgated by President Robert Mugabe proclaiming the introduction of bond notes.
On October 31 2016, President Mugabe, through an extraordinary government gazette, side-stepped Parliament and issued a decree clearing the way for the introduction of bond notes after he 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.
In issuing the decree, President Mugabe invoked his so-called presidential powers to amend the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act and attempted to legalise the imminent introduction of bond notes in Zimbabwe as the country’s currency to be utilised alongside a basket of other foreign currencies that are already in use in the southern African country.
President Mugabe indicated that Finance and Economic Development Minister Hon. 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 and directing that each unit of a bond note is exchangeable for one US dollar.
But ZLHR on Monday filed an application in the High Court requesting that President Mugabe’s decree be set aside as it is unconstitutional as the Presidential Powers (Temporal Measures Act) (Chapter 10:20) gives sweeping powers to the nonagenarian leader of making laws virtually on every subject.
In a founding affidavit filed as part of the application by ZLHR Acting Executive Director, Roselyn Hanzi, the human rights organisation wants the High Court to declare the proposed introduction of bond notes as unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
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.
ZLHR lawyers Tendai Biti and Dzimbabwe Chimbga, who cited President Mugabe, Hon. Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya argued that President Mugabe acted illegally by not allowing Parliament to scrutinise such a deed and not allowing legislators to consult members of the public.
Biti and Chimbga argued that presidential powers could only be used in emergencies and the bond notes law that he was tinkering with was not an emergency since the government through Dr Mangudya first announced the introduction of the surrogate currency in May.
ZLHR lawyers are now awaiting a determination by judicial officials on when the application will be set down for hearing.