Chinamasa spot fine increase illegal

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The unilateral increase of spot fines by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in his 2016 National Budget presentation last week could be null and void at law, unless the government moves to review the fines schedule or amend the law, legal experts have said.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Kwekwe-based lawyer, Caroline Mugabe said changing the fine structure without adjusting the entire fines schedule would be fatal at law.

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“Police officers are currently allowed to assess fines up level three, which is up to $20. Anything above that going into level four of the fines schedule is supposed to be dealt with by a magistrate. This means in the absence of an upward review of all fine schedules, then the move will be illegal,” she said.

Lawyer and MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu agreed, saying the announcement would not stand constitutional scrutiny if relevant Acts of Parliament were not adjusted to accommodate the new fine structure.

“That pronouncement by Chinamasa cannot successfully withstand constitutional scrutiny. Spot fines cannot just be increased willy nilly without regard to the underlying legal requirement that state that the schedule under which the fine is imposed should not be ultra vires the provisions of the enabling Act of Parliament,” he said.

“Put alternatively, any statutory instrument that has the effect of violating the provisions of the Act under which it is promulgated is void ab initio, that is from the very outset.”

The new fines are expected to come into force on January 1 next year.

According to the Finance Act, 2009 (No 3 of 2009), with effect from April 23, 2009, $100 is a level four fine, which carries an alternative of 12 months’ imprisonment and matters at that level should be dealt with by an ordinary magistrate, whose jurisdiction does not exceed level seven or two years in prison.

A magistrate, who could not be named for professional reasons, said the pronouncement had no effect until a Statutory Instrument was promulgated increasing fine of level three from $20 to $100.

“This means all level fines have to go up or they will amend the law so that police are empowered to assess fines up to level four, since they are the government,” said the magistrate.

The ordinary sentencing powers of the various magistrates are provided for by section 50 of the Act. An ordinary magistrate is limited to imposing a prison term that does not exceed two years or a fine not exceeding level seven.

A senior magistrate may impose imprisonment for a period not exceeding four years or a fine not exceeding level nine, a provincial magistrate can impose up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine that does not exceed level 10 and finally a regional magistrate’s ordinary sentencing jurisdiction is imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine not in excess of level 12.

18 COMMENTS

  1. What I know is the fact that the higher the fine the greater will be the level of corruption. Besides, we should not expect to raise money through people who break the law. When we give police officers daily targets then we are creating a mafia state in which crime is cherished.

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  2. Chimamasa is mixing fund raising thru fines and policing. Chinamasa is more concerned with increasing revenue collections thru spot fines. The more motorists break traffic laws the more Treasury makes. Unfortunately such high fines are unaffordable and will fuel corruption. This tax measure was ill thought out and without consultation with other law enforcement agencies.

  3. I think Chinamasa wants to do fund raising by making sure the police retain their usual $20 and the $80 remainder goes to tressury. This fine is too much given that ordinary drivers are already paying more interms of fuel and tollgtaes. This govwrnment is just obssessed with making its citizens lifes unbearable.

  4. haa imi mashaya zvekutaura here ingazvakanzi spot fine hakuchina ne court asi nanhasi tichiri kungo bhadhara wani .ipfugwa dzetumamajestry tusina ku dzidza tunongoti mutemo unoti ,mutemo unoti. come junuary 2016 you will pay. siyai varikutonga vatonge vatsvake mari.

  5. When a whole government believes that they can run a country through crime then we have lost it. Te abuse of citizens through spot fines and clamping charges is so embarrassing that some people do not want to come to Zimbabwe. Dai muchiregererawo maforeigner.

    Chinamasa is so desperate that he believes that there are sections of society which has got access to endless riches. Some of the actions have become illegal even if they are done behind some dubious law.

  6. In the meantime, no one bothers to repair potholes, ZRP not interested to direct traffic when the robots are not working only to see them hiding behind trees like silly pranksters trapping amber light offenders. So the core business of police is now fund raising? This has created disrespect for the police to the extent that kana pasina motorbike kana Bimer handimire nyangwe ndamiswa ndinorova pasi. Mazitsotsi evanhu anobira vanhu akapfeka mauniforms.

    • The obsession with fund raising has gone crazy. A lone policeman flagged me down for an amber robot “offense”. He proceeded to issue me with an admission of guilt form and $10 fine . Instead of having a colleague to sign as a witness to the process he forged the other officers(non existent at the scene) details and signature. I only noticed this much later when i was looking at the ticket. I would like to challenge anyone in zrp pr to give me their details so I can show them.

  7. The promulgated law is indeed void ab initio! Chinamasa is basically saying a motorist who shoots thru a red robot either pays $100 or goes to jail for 12 months?
    1. Our jails have no food, how will you feed the influx? Was the recent Chikurubi prison disturbance not a lesson enough?
    2. For security during night driving we are advised to cautiously drive thru red robots. Am sure some police details will prefer to work during the night, around traffic lights?
    3. When the rulers seek to raise money from the ruled, then you know you are in trouble.

    It has been scientifically proven that heavy fines do not reduce crime. It’s the feeling of a high probability of being caught that deters. For example, even if the fine is $10 and the motorist knows that they will be caught, they will behave well.

    • Its not about reducing crime to them but fund raising. notice the excitement of any officer at a robot when you go against an amber robot. they are actually very happy.

  8. While we do not support the violation of the traffic rules and regulations, we do not subscribe to an issue which will further corrupt our police force because we know what is happening on our roads in terms of corrupt practices by our force. We are talking of real things which we have witnessed as mature adults and sometimes being openly done. The more the fines are increased, the more we train even our young recruits to be more corrupt and corruption is a dangerous cancer to our nation. Let us think gain on this one.

  9. Chinamasa is out of psych with the prevailing economic conditions. Surely, how does he expect an ordinary motorist to always have a disposable $100 at a police spot check point. The police should construct massive holding facilities for the vehicles whose owners would have failed to produce that amount. He should not compare our rates with those of our neighboring countries because unless our economy is equally competitive.

  10. I thought the amounts should come from the minister of Home affairs, Transport or at least Justice.
    In an economy where $300 is the average salary then a ticket for a traffic fine is $100 shows how the regime is now slowly sinking.

  11. Spot fines have been denounced by citizens as direct violation of human rights and an affront to constitutional democracy as the police are given excessive powers of arresting, prosecution and delivering verdicts. Even Mupurisa washe is not allowed to do that, but having found some one committing a crime, will summon the same to a Chief’s Court where the issue is deliberated and a verdict delivered. Chinamasa, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice and a trained lawyer he should know and understand the implications of using the police to break the law, by converting them as militias harassing the populace like some kind of Banana Republic, where war and drug lords rampages and extort money from defenseless people. That behaviour of the police of Zimbabwe should be condoned. There is no justification at all and these are some of the reasons went to war when our fore fathers were forced to pay taxes on things like livestock and hut.

  12. my Aunty Brianna just got a great Lexus IS F Sedan just by some parttime working online with a macbook…

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  13. Ey corruption n theft z one n the same thing,, don’t just focus in laws whilst the economy z now 2% ,,wake up n raise the country we are tyd to be foreigners

  14. It only take a corrupt minister to come up with such trush instead of tuckling productive issues …that’s ZANU pf for you until Zimbos wakes up .they bring the chinees to suck you more and give the police the whip …who is better smith or this gvt

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