Pastor sues Ziyambi, Machaya over ‘unreasonable’ court fees

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Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

CHIVHU-based cleric Abinel Mukaro has dragged Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Prince Machaya to the High Court over “unreasonable” court fees, which he said impeded people from accessing justice.

Mukaro is challenging Statutory Instrument 221 of 2020, which he says was unconstitutional as it infringes on his right to equal benefits from the law as well as his right to access courts.

In his founding affidavit, Mukaro said his wife died on September 12, 2021 after being severely assaulted by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) stationed in Chivhu, and gave notice of intention to sue the police and proceeded to issue summons.

He said he was instructed to be ready to pay the Registrar of the Court 1% of the amount that he was claiming, which amounted to $10 266 for service of the summons.


Attorney-General Prince Machaya

“I cannot afford these fees due to my precarious financial position, but I believe I am entitled to have my case heard by the court and I do not believe or qualify to be represented as a pauper nor would I want to,” Mukaro said.

“I am advised that Ziyambi, in terms of section 57 of the High Court Act, fixes fees that are payable to the Registrar for issuing of process.

“The High Court (Fees) (Civil Cases) Regulations, 1992 published in the High Court (Fees) (Civil Cases) (Amendment) Rules, 2020 (No 11) entitles the Registrar to charge an extra 1% for issuing summons where the claim sounds in money. This is in addition to the fees payable under item 1, which is $1 000. I believe that there is no basis or rationale, for charging the extra 1% as I am advised that the duties of the Registrar are the same in respect to actions whether sounding in money or not.

“I am advised that section 56(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that ‘All persons are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law’. I believe requiring me to pay 1% of the amount that I am claiming in a wrongful death action infringes and deprives me of my right to equal benefit of the law.”

He said SI 211 of 2020 was, therefore, unconstitutional.

“I am humbly praying that the registrars entitlement to be paid 1% of a  claim sounding in money be declared unconstitutional and that item 2 of item two of the High Court (Fees) (Civil Cases) Regulations 1999 published in the High Court (Fees) (Civil Cases) Amendment rules 2020 Statutory Instrument 211 of 2020 (No 11) be set aside,” Mukaro said.

Ziyambi and Machaya are yet to respond to the application.

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