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High Court reserves judgement in SI 127 challenge

A High Court Judge has reserved judgement in a case where human rights’ lawyer Obey Shava is challenging the constitutionality of Statutory Instrument 127 of 2021.

The government in May gazetted the SI which, among other things, amended the Exchange Control Act.

The SI prohibits businesses from charging above the official exchange rate and sought to punish those that refuse to take the Zimbabwe dollar in local transactions.

But Judge Justice David Mangota reserved judgement last week.

Shava, who is 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.

“It is strange that the President is using taxpayers’ money to defend the action. It’s unheard of,” Shava said in a telephone interview.

The SI was seen as a desperate attempt to curtail the galloping exchange rate on the parallel market and stabilise the local currency, but business leaders argued the impact was akin to price controls.

Last week, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Air Vice-Marshal Michael Moyo sought to take advantage of the SI by dragging a top private school to court over USD fees.

Moyo took the Dominican Convent School to court after they withdrew an offer letter for a form one place for his daughter when he refused to pay school fees in United States dollars.

He wanted to pay the fees equivalent to US$1 500 at the prevailing official foreign currency auction rate as developmental fees.

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