High Court puts an end to ZUPCO’s monopoly

Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Evangelista Kabasa, has ruled that the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO)’s monopoly over urban public transport established by the government at the height of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was unlawful.

However, the ruling, which is rather too late, comes at a time when private transport operators have since resumed their business.

Hiding behind the pandemic control measures and protocols the government banned private transport operators from conducting their business, allowing only ZUPCO to do that.

Disgruntled by the government’s unilateral decision, Tshova Mubaiwa, a network of commuter omnibus owners operating in Bulawayo approached lawyers seeking to challenge the monopoly created by government, through the provisions of section 4 (2) of the Public Health (Covid -19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) National lockdown) Order 2020, which provides that only Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) could transport passengers.

Tshova Mubaiwa members argued they were left unemployed as a result of the ZUPCO monopoly created by the government and their right to choose and carry out a profession of their choice was violated.

The development, they also violated their right to administrative justice as enshrined in section 68 of the Constitution. 

Through their lawyer Josphat Tshuma of Webb Low and Barry, Tshova Mubaiwa then filed a court application seeking that the provisions of section 4 (2) of the Public Health (Covid – 19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) National Lockdown Order 2020 be declared unlawful and set aside.

In their application, Tshova Mubaiwa cited then Health and Child Care Minister, Obadiah Moyo, Police Commissioner-General, Godwin Matanga, Local Government Minister July Moyo, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa as first to fourth respondents respectively.

The case was opposed by the respondents and was subsequently set down for argument before Justice Kabasa on 29 September 2022, wherein she ordered that the section of the law that created a monopoly for ZUPCO was unlawful.

“Whereupon after reading documents filed of record and hearing Mr. J Tshuma for the applicant and Mr P Kunaka for all the respondents, it is ordered that Section 4 (2) (a) of  the Public Health (Covid -19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) National lockdown) Order 2020 as being unlawful, irregular and invalid is hereby reviewed and set aside,” ruled Justice Kabasa.

She went further to order the first respondent (Health and Child Care Minister) to pay the cost of the suit on an ordinary scale.

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