ConCourt gives bond notes a thumbs up
BOND notes will be released into circulation without glitches next month after the Constitutional Court yesterday dismissed, with costs, a challenge by Zimbabwe People First leader Dr Joice Mujuru, describing it as premature and speculative for seeking to challenge bond notes that are not even in circulation.
It is the court’s finding that Dr Mujuru has to wait until the notes are introduced in order to point to the illegalities in them and the violation of the Constitution by the legal framework to be used in releasing the notes.
The Government is set to release bond notes worth $75 million at the end of October in 2 and 5 note denominations.
Dr Mujuru last month filed an application at the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the Government’s decision to introduce bond notes end of October.
The politician wanted to bar the introduction of bond notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe arguing that it was unconstitutional because it was likely to contravene several cited sections of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Dr Mujuru listed President Mugabe, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya and the Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya, as respondents in the constitutional challenge.
The challenge came just after the Government announced its intention to introduce the notes as part of a raft of measures calculated at stemming the liquidity crunch prevailing in the country.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, sitting with eight other judges of the apex court, described the politician’s contestation as premature and speculative.
“After considering papers filed in this matter and submissions by counsel, the court is satisfied that this application is premature and speculative. It is hereby dismissed with costs,” ruled the Chief Justice.
Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba said: “You have to wait for the promulgation of an Act of Parliament or a Statutory Instrument first and you come back to court to challenge the legal framework’s constitutionality. The applicant doesn’t have enough facts for her case now and when she gets the full facts, she can still come back to court with the challenge.
“At the moment no one knows how the Government will introduce the notes and it is premature to challenge the constitutionality of the law that is not yet in place. The bond notes are not yet in circulation and no one knows what they look like.
“You allege that bond notes will be illegally introduced but the Government said it will do it in terms of the law. On what basis do you want us to believe you? An allegation must not just spring out from the air”.
Advocates Thabani Mpofu and Garikai Sithole represented RBZ and its Governor Dr Mangudya while Professor Lovemore Madhuku and Mr Gift Nyandoro appeared for Dr Mujuru.
A director in the Attorney General’s Civil Division Mrs Fortune Chimbaru acted for President Mugabe, Minister Chinamasa and Adv Machaya.
The Chief Justice also added that Dr Mujuru could have indicated in her papers how she was likely to have her rights violated by the introduction of bond notes.
“In her private capacity, she has not stated how her rights as an individual will be violated. For example, if she has $1 million in her bank account, she should have said it.
“If she doesn’t have even a cent in the account, then she cannot succeed to sue in her individual capacity,” he said.
The Government contends that the bond notes will not be a new form of currency to be used in the country but just a representative of a currency already in circulation.
The central bank, the lawyers argued, has authority to issue such monetary instruments in terms of Section 7(1) (d) of the RBZ Act.
Dr Mangudya, in his founding affidavit, said the bond notes issue can be resolved by the High Court and that taking it to the apex court was unjustified under the circumstances. He said the application was mere politics that was being smuggled into the court of law. In her application, Dr Mujuru said bond notes pose the greatest threat to the livelihoods of people of this country.
She said they would destroy the economy and perpetuate poverty.
Dr Mujuru said from her experience in Government as a Vice President, it was clear to her that the greatest mistake this country ever made was to print the so-called bearer cheques. She said the only reasonable way forward is to adhere strictly to the multi-currency regime while doing everything necessary to stimulate economic growth.
Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba
Dr Joice Mujuru