Published On: Sat, Nov 12th, 2016

Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act unconstitutional

Zimbabwe witnessed the President utilising the Presidential Measures Act to gazette the introduction of bond notes. Legal watch dogs including Veritas have argued that the Act does not respect the spirit and letter of the supreme law of the land.

The Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act has a title that is self-explanatory. This is to say that that any measures that comes as a result of the Act shall only be operational in the interim except on one condition. This is on condition that unless the Act is confirmed or buttressed by an Act of Parliament, the measures will expire after 180 days. This is something many Zimbabweans do not know and we should question what shall happen after the prescription of the 180 days. If government is hell bent on making the bond notes a permanent fixture in the economy of Zimbabwe, going beyond 180 days, this Act shall have to go to Parliament as a Bill like every other law. That is the procedural requirement. Without that it will be as if the bond notes never existed, which is the same as any other product that has outlived its shelf life.

The question that is hanging over the heads of many is why His Excellency resorted to the use of the unconstitutional and invalid Temporary Measures Act to promulgate the bond notes instead of using the usual channel.  Is it because the current liquidity crisis requires such a hurried solution or there is a much sinister agenda that we are yet to discover?

Despite the fact that issue of bond notes has been largely debated over a period of several months, the use of Statutory Instrument 133 of 2016 speaks of another story. It speaks of some kind of rush or hastiness to do something. Why the haste we would ask and why use the Temporary measures Act to do the hasty job? It can be argued that if Zimbabweans really wanted they have legitimate grounds to challenge the use of SI 133 of 2016 which shall be highlighted below.

The first valid ground to challenge the instrument is as mentioned above the Temporary Measures Act is invalid and unconstitutional. This is to say that no legislative Acts can be made under it.

Secondly, did the status quo warrant the use of the Act?  The Act empowers the President to make regulations that deal with situations which are so urgent that waiting for Parliament to pass on an Act to deal with those situations is tantamount to thwarting what is just and fair. Some feel that there was adequate time for the law makers to amend the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act after bond notes were mooted. Which they failed to do but resorted to the use of the Temporary Measures Act which defies logic.

With the above grounds for challenge, it is the wish of well-meaning citizens that any statutory instrument that is under the public spectacle the public should be widely consulted. Thus, Parliament is mandated with formulating measures to this effect and ensuring that Ministers submit important Statutory Instruments for assessment in good time. As SI 133 of 2016 has been handled in a manner that is riddled with errors.

 

 

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