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Govt must stop ruling by decree: Biti

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the government must abide by the laws of the country and stop ruling by decree, arguing Zimbabwe is not a monarchy.

Biti, who is also the legislator for Harare East was speaking in the National Assembly after Finance and Economic Minister, Mthuli Ncube presented a ministerial statement on the state of the economy on Thursday.

Just recently, the government announced a raft of controversial measures aimed at ‘curbing’ the runaway inflation and stabilising the Zimbabwe dollar. Some of the measures include the ban on lending by banks, which has been criticised as lacking economic sense.

“We cannot rule by decree; this is not a monarchy,” said Biti.

“How can we wake up as Members of Parliament and be told that banks have been banned? It is unconstitutional and we hold the powers. How can we wake up and be told that Capital Gains [tax] is now 40%? How can we wake up and be told that intermediated money transfer tax is now 4%? How can we wake up and be told that to withdraw your own money, USD$1000 you have to pay a 2% levy?”

He said it was important for the government to respect the august House adding as MPs, they were elected to carry out the functions defined in the Constitution.

“My points of clarification to the esteemed Minister of Finance are three or four,” said Biti.

“The first one is that anything that is done by the government and the authorities must be done within the four corners of the law. The decision taken to ban or suspend bank lending has not been done by force of law. There is no Statutory Instrument (SI), even if there was, that SI would clearly be unconstitutional because our Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of trade, freedom of the profession, and the right to labour.”

He went on to say the increase in capital gains tax on trades under 270 days from 20% to 40% requires amendment of the Income Tax Act and only Parliament can do that.

“Parliament has not passed such an amendment,” he said.

“The increase of Intermediated Money Transfer (IMMT) on United States dollars from fifty cents to 4% on the United States dollar also requires an amendment to Section 22 (G) of the Income Tax Act. Only this Parliament can do that and we have not done that. So my point of clarification is why the Minister is taking and announcing measures which have not been anchored on law and changes by Parliament?”

He added that the government should also repeal the Statutory Instrument (SI) which established the ZUPCO monopoly.

“The monopoly of ZUPCO was introduced by Section 4 (2) (e) of the COVID regulations, SI 83 of 2020,” said Biti.

“If the government is genuine about introducing other players which we welcome because we are suffering as commuters, Section 4 (2) (e) must be repealed. It has not been repealed. We appeal that the government must act within the law and the government must respect this august House.”

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