Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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‘Judge erred in State Liabilities Act matter’

‘Judge erred in State Liabilities Act matter’

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) yesterday declined to entertain proceedings to invalidate the State Liabilities Act on a technical basis, after noting that the High Court judge, who invalidated the Act should not have referred the matter to the ConCourt.

BY CHARLES LAITON

In March this year, Justice Edith Mushore delivered a landmark ruling invalidating the Act, saying it was being used by the government to evade settlement of debts and complying with court orders.

Justice Mushore’s judgment came after Mutare businessman, Tendai Mangwiro approached the High Court, seeking an order to invalidate the Act, saying it was hindering his efforts to be recompensed over $1,5 million, which was seized from him by the police in 2012.

The ConCourt bench said Justice Mushore, after making a determination that the Act was inconsistent with the Constitution, should have rested the matter and allowed the Registrar of the High Court to submit the case to the highest court for confirmation rather than making an order for referral.

“The judge had no legal basis to make that order (of referral to the ConCourt) and, therefore, all the processes starting from the judge up to this day are a nullity,” Chief Justice Luke Malaba said.

“The court had no jurisdiction for referral once it made a determination, it’s not provided for at law,” the Chief Justice said, advising Mangwiro’s lawyer, Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, to revisit the matter and resubmit it.

The matter was eventually struck off the roll by consent.

In the application, Mangwiro cited Justice minister and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.

In her judgment, Justice Mushore said Mnangagwa, Chombo and Machaya had been and were “continuing to be in contempt”.

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