Published On: Wed, Nov 16th, 2016

Lawyers take President Mugabe to court

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) approached the High Court Tuesday seeking an order to stop government from introducing bond notes.

Last month President Robert Mugabe issued regulations providing the legal basis for the issuance of ‘bond notes,’ a surrogate currency his government hopes will ease a biting US dollar bank note shortage.

The veteran leader used the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to amend the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Act to designate bond notes as legal tender.

According to the RBZ, the notes will be introduced before the end of the month.

The urgent application by the rights lawyers cites Mugabe, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya.

The rights said the court should declare unconstitutional the statutory instrument which government used to legitimize introduction of the bond notes.

“The Presidential (temporary measures) Amendment of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act and Issue of bond notes regulation, 2016 be and hereby declared null and void and of no force and effect,” reads part of the ZLHR application to the High Court.

ZLHR lawyer Dzimbahwe Chimbga said presidential powers were only used in emergencies and the bond notes law was not an emergency since the government first announced their introduction in May this year.

“He usurped the powers of parliament by making himself the lawmaker and in any event the Presidential Powers Act does not allow him to act in a manner that he did,” Chimbga said.

The High Court is expected to hear the case this week.

Local banks are limiting daily withdrawals to between $40 and $100 due to cash shortages, which has also seen some firms struggle to repatriate dividends and pay foreign debts.

Memories are still fresh of the hyperinflation considered by the International Monetary Fund as the worst for any country not at war.

The crisis led to the release of the 100 trillion dollar Zimbabwean dollar note – the single largest known bill to be printed by any central bank. Shoppers carried stacks of money in plastic bags as prices changed several times daily.

The introduction of the U.S. dollar as the official currency in 2009 halted the sky-high and accelerating inflation.

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