Court throws out challenge to exchange control ammendments

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Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

THE High Court has dismissed an application by human rights lawyer Obert Shava, challenging the constitutionality of Statutory Instrument (SI) 127 of 2021 which imposes civil penalties on those found violating exchange control regulations.

Justice David Mangota refused to hear Shava’s case saying the application lacks locus standi, adding that it should be supported by bankers and forex dealers.

Shava, who was represented by Tonderai Bhatasara of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), cited President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.

In his application, Shava argued that the SI was akin to price controls.

“SI 127 of 2021 is seen as an attempt to curtail the galloping exchange rate on the parallel market and stabilise the local currency, but business leaders say its impact is akin to price controls and could lead to shortages of goods on the formal market,” Shava said.

The SI, which sought to prohibit business operators from charging above the official exchange rate and or refuse to accept the Zimbabwe dollar, was seen as a desperate attempt to curtail the galloping exchange rate on the parallel market which was viewed as the major distabilisers of the local currency.

In November, Air Force of Zimbabwe’s Air Vice-Marshal Michael Moyo sought to take advantage of the SI by dragging a top private school to court over US dollar fees.

Moyo took Dominican Convent School to court after it withdrew an offer letter for a Form One place for his daughter when he refused to pay fees in United States dollars. He
wanted to pay US$1 500 fees at the prevailing official foreign currency auction rate.

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