Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru says she has now turned to informal trading for survival and has dragged President Robert Mugabe to the High Court, challenging the move to restrict the importation of basic commodities.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
In a High Court challenge filed through her lawyers, Hamunakwadi and Nyandoro Law Chambers, Mujuru said Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016 promulgated by Industry minister Mike Bimha restricting the importation of goods such as milk, cereals, juices and furniture was illegal and unconstitutional.
“In terms of section 134 of the Constitution, a statutory instrument can only be made directly in terms of an Act of Parliament. Statutory instrument 64 of 2016 is ultra vires the Control of Goods Act and therefore illegal, null and void and of no force or effect,” reads Mujuru’s application filed on Friday.
In her founding affidavit, the former vice-president said she had now turned to informal trading as a way to support her family as a widow, arguing the ban on imports had affected her trade.
“When the economic situation in the country deteriorated in the last few years, most Zimbabweans resorted to importing goods and reselling them at a modest profit,” Mujuru said.
“The goods listed by the second respondent [Bimha] starting from 24 to 36 formed the bulk of those imports. Importers only had to pay import duty, where applicable.”
The ex-VP said the High Court should set aside the SI and declare it null and void.
“The statutory instrument is the most insensitive piece of legislation ever to be enacted in independent Zimbabwe,” Mujuru argued.
“By stroke of a pen, the second respondent [Bimha] effectively banned the importation of almost all goods that sustained the lives of millions of Zimbabweans, who, because of the severe economic difficulties, survive by engaging in the informal trade.
“I can say with absolute confidence that statutory instrument 64 of 2016 has injected poverty in informal traders’ lives and has brought misery to the ordinary and suffering Zimbabweans.
“I am pained to note that the second respondent has had no qualms in resorting to a piece of legislation authored by Ian Douglas Smith of Rhodesia.”
SI 64 now requires a permit from the Industry ministry for the importation of several goods. The ban on imports sparked protests that resulted in the burning of a Zimra warehouse at the Beitbridge border post.
According to government, the move was aimed at promoting local industry which was suffocating due to the influx of cheap imported goods.
Mujuru’s application is also supported by Marian Chombo, the former wife of Home Affairs minister, Ignatious Chomo, who also deposed of an affidavit.
Mugabe, Bhima and the Attorney-General’s office listed as the first, second and third respondents respectively have 10 days to respond to the court challenge and if they fail , the case will be heard as an unopposed matter.