Thirteen tenants threatened with eviction from townhouses owned by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) have approached the Bulawayo High Court in a bid to have their case referred to the Supreme Court.
The tenants want to challenge the constitutionality of a legal provision that exempts government and parastatals from adhering to Rent Board regulations. The court application comes after NSSA grounds that it wants to use the property to “accommodate its employees”.
According to court records HC 1759 / 09, the 13 tenants who rent different townhouses situated in Woodlands were given notices of eviction in October 2008.
NSSA stated that the tenants should vacate the premises on or before January 31, 2009. The tenants refused to vacate the premises arguing that NSSA did not comply with the rent regulations as stipulated by the Rent Board.
Quasi-government bodies are exempted from adhering to any rent regulations according to the governing Act.
The tenants also refused to pay rentals from January 2009 and NSSA issued summons in November 2009 claiming $350 in monthly rentals.The tenants argued that the notice was “invalid as it violated regulations of the rent board” and in response NSSA said it and other statutory bodies are “exempt from the rent regulations”.
A pre-trial conference was held at the High Court in Bulawayo where the tenants submitted that they “had no defence” and Justice Lawrence Kamocha ruled there “be a consent order”.
However, on the day of drafting the consent order, the tenants’ lawyer Brighton Ndove told Justice Kamocha that the “exemption that NSSA and other statutory bodies” have is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
“Pursuant to Section 24(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Defendant requests referral to the Supreme Court for the determination of the question whether Section 2(2) of the Rent Regulations 32/2007 in its effect, contravenes the right of the defendant to the protection of the law enshrined in section 18(1) and or alternatively to protection from discrimination enshrined in Section 23(1)(a) of the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and is therefore unconstitutional,” argued the tenants.