Zimbabwe People First leader Dr Joice Mujuru has gone to the Constitutional Court to challenge the legality of a Presidential decree providing a legal framework for the introduction of bond notes as legal tender. President Mugabe issued a decree this week authorising the introduction of bond notes, which are expected to ease the liquidity crunch gripping the country.
Dr Mujuru filed her application in the Constitutional Court yesterday and listed President Mugabe, Parliament, Finance and Economic Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya and Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya as respondents.
She wants an order declaring that President Mugabe, by exercising Parliament’s primary law-making power through Statutory Instrument 133 of 2016, failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations to obey certain provisions of the Constitution.
She also wants the regulations to be nullified for want of fulfilling the constitutional obligations. “First respondent (President Mugabe) has a constitutional obligation to uphold, defend, obey and respect this Constitution as the supreme law of the nation and must ensure that this
Constitution and all other laws are faithfully observed,” she stated in her affidavit. She contends that President Mugabe has no constitutional authority to make statutory instruments and amend Acts of Parliament.
The President, she further avers, should also ensure that none of his ministers make statutory instruments that amend Acts of Parliament. “In breach of that constitutional obligation he
(President Mugabe) has made SI 133/2016,” she argues. “As the SI 133/2016 has been made
contrary to a constitutional obligation, it is a nullity.”
Dr Mujuru also argues that instead of resorting to the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act (Chap 10:20), President Mugabe has a duty to initiate legislation to repeal the statute. “As Head of State, he ought to allow Parliament to do its work,” she says. “Given that his Government finalised this policy in May 2016, why did he not allow the passage of a Bill in Parliament? Be that as it may, a repeal is superfluous because those of its provisions that contradict the Constitution are void.”
She also contends that Parliament should protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance. SI 133 of 2016, Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Amendment of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, empowers the central bank to issue bond notes using its preferred design, form and material.
In terms of the statutory instrument, the RBZ will determine how the bond notes and coins will look like. The Statutory Instrument also covers bond coins that are already in circulation.
Minister Chinamasa said SI 133 of 2016 gave the RBZ power to introduce bond notes and coins with a 1:1 rate against the United States dollar.
He said they were compelled to accept payment in bond notes. “If one owes you money in United States dollars, you must accept payment in bond notes. You cannot refuse. One would have discharged his or her obligation to you,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said the RBZ would now go ahead to introduce the bond notes without any hin- drance. “The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will with immediate effect start the process towards issuance of bond notes as a legal tender in Zimbabwe. The process will commence with media publicity to inform and raise awareness of the public on the denominations, design, form, material and security features which are used in the bond notes to be intro- duced. Minister Chinamasa said under existing legislation the RBZ had the power to issue bond notes in terms of the provisions of Section 7 of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act Chapter (22:15).
The bond notes, which are guaranteed by a $200 million African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) loan facility, will be at par with the US dollar.
Bond notes will be first introduced in $2 and $5 denominations before the gradual rolling out of the $10 and $20 notes. The first phase of the bond notes introduction will see $75 million being released by end of December this year. Hamunakwadi and Nyandoro Law Chambers are representing Dr Mujuru.
By: Fidelis Munyoro Senior Reporter