Bond notes and civic action or civic disobedience
There is a political question and a legal question. One wonders what the solution to a political question and also to a legal question is? Zimbabwe is currently embroiled in a directionless battle. Why would I say directionless will soon be apparent. I must confess it is one that has not aroused a lot of interest because of the means being used to me.
The question of whether a statutory instrument or an Act has been used to introduced the bond note is an interesting one. One needs to know that is there always an Act of parliament for every government action that has to be done? Are bond notes a permanent state of affairs or they are a temporary reprieve? There are monetary policies and Acts of law and surely we need to understand the functions thereof.
When Zimbabwe wishes to introduce the usage of any other currency in the country there is no outcry as to why and the laws thereof. On the contrary when the bond note is introduced people must go to court. The courts do not make law but apply law. The courts cannot outlaw the usage of bond notes but if it be imperative that an Act of parliament be enacted before such introduction, the court can only delay temporarily the inevitable. The question of Statutory Instruments being used in this battle to introduce the bond notes does not resolve the big elephant in the room.
We need to identify the big elephant in the room. What is it? The bond notes is merely one of those signs of a long failed government or government policies. You cannot expect a car whose maximum carrying capacity is a ton to do one hundred tons. The capacity of the government of Zimbabwe and seemingly now us as a people is in question because we use the wrong tools to engage in a battle.
Please recognise that it is within the government of ZANU PF to even introduce a Zim dollar or any other policy issue as and when it so desires because that is the reason why they are in government. Please note that the legitimacy of ZANU PF cannot be fought in any other way but using the appropriate means. ZANU PF can make any policies and enact laws which even if they are bad but not in violation of the Constitution will stand. The only recourse the people will have or have against such practices is the ability to identify the appropriate tool to fight this government.
Political questions are resolved through the ballot box, civic disobedience, mass action and civic education and anything short of this will not succeed in a functional democracy and is further intolerable. Infact this may only show desperation on the side of opposition politics. There are matters meant for the courts and there are matters that if the courts involve themselves in they will be trying to run the country which is the job of the executive. The principle of separation of powers is very important here. In many cases our courts have answered questions which they lack jurisdiction over but simple because it works for their good or they are confused also about what their role is.
The Mujuru application raises the issue of the Reserve bank Act (Chapter 22:15), I stand guided to a certain extent but PART VI clearly stipulates the role of the reserve bank and processes of issuing bank notes, legal tender issues in line with the President’s authority thereof. I think this application will fail dismally because in the same ACT there is nothing that talks about the use of the US Dollar, the Rand and other currencies. Interestingly, there is provision for statutory instruments to be used by the minister dealing with the issue of bank notes in line with matters determined by the President.
The Preamble of this Act specifically states that it confers and imposes functions on the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe and to provide for its management; to regulate the issue of banknotes and coins; to provide for matters connected with banking, currencies, monetary policy and coinage ..etc. Monetary Policy deals with control in money and currency related issues. I see no grounds for this application except that the applications in my humble opinion could be misdirected. The Minister, the President and the Reserve bank are within their dutiful rights to issue the creature called bond notes. Anything or the legal challenge is a bad attempt at the usurpation of authority to try and do their work.
However, what should the question to be asked be? The issues to be addressed are whether this will resolve the problems that Zimbabwe is facing and this is not for the courts to decide. Dealing with this question does not require this matter to be dealt with in court but rather it is a question of government failing to govern and deliver the promises it made to the people of Zimbabwe and that is a political question. I have already indicated the means to address these issues. These are mainly political tools except if we do not have the clout to identify such tools and our politics is merely chance and casting of lots.
The issue of direct access to the court is not of importance but ideal this serves to blot the Constitutional Court with irrelevant matters preventing pressing issues to be dealt with until 2018 and that is the problem. We should learn to prioritise and choose our battles properly. In an ailing legal system where court cases take forever, why inundate the court with the burden of matters that will not see the break of day in terms of success. This could in my view qualify for abuse of systems and the courts.
In a nutshell the issue with bond notes is an issue of failed governance and government policies and therefore cannot be dealt with through the judiciary but politically. I know this sounds as though I am saying bond notes are fine, by far not in the least, this is proof that ZANU has no plan because it has reached the ceiling of its aggregate thinking capacity of all its members put together. To expect more from them is to overburden them with what they have no capability to offer. It is not within them to do more in terms of development but destruction. The opposition must therefore do ZANU the favour of removing them from power by employing the appropriate political tools and showing outstanding political acumen than what is on display. The failure to remove ZANU PF is nothing but showing that the opposition has no plan, no strategy but is outwitted by ZANU, ZANU shows better intelligence if it outwits the opposition, then the question is what does the opposition offer to the people of Zimbabwe?
Wisdom means outplaying your opponent despite all advantages they may have.
Authored by Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda author of the book entitled African Politics – featuring Zimbabwe and South Africa as major case studies available on Amazon and Lulu.