Jarvis and ZimRights Challenge Massive Hike in Deposit Fines

A HUMAN rights lawyer and Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) have filed an urgent chamber application at Harare High Court seeking an order to stop government from implementing or enforcing new deposit fines which it recently purported to have authorised.

In an urgent chamber application filed by Tonderai Bhatasara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, human rights lawyer Sheila Jarvis and ZimRights argued that government had erred by purporting to approve increases in deposit fines which police officers manning check points and roadblocks have already begun to implement.

Government gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 25/2021 in an Extraordinary Gazette published on Monday 25 January 2021, which had the effect of increasing all deposit fines.

Jarvis and ZimRights said the enforcement of SI 25/2021 is a legal nullity and contravenes their right to equality and non-discrimination enshrined in section 56 of the Constitution.

The human rights lawyer and the human rights organisation said given the massive increases in the fines compared to the income levels of the general population, there is reasonable apprehension of irreparable harm that will be caused to many offenders who would fail to pay the increased fines yet eventually SI 25/2021 would be set aside.

Jarvis and ZimRights contended that the law requires the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to get Parliament’s approval before increasing deposit fines levels.

SI 25/2021, Jarvis and ZimRights argued, is invalid in that it was not made in accordance with section 280(6) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act), which says “A statutory instrument may not be made in terms of subsection (5) unless a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of Parliament.

The human rights lawyer and ZimRights stated that with no swipe machines or ticket-books at roadblocks plus little cash available, amid the obtaining economic challenges, there is a real risk of higher fines causing real hardship and corruption.

Jarvis and ZimRights wants the respondents, who were listed as Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe and Parliament, their subordinates and any other person acting under their control or on their behalf to be interdicted from implementing or enforcing the deposit fines purportedly authorised by SI 25 of 2021.

They also want SI 25/2021 to be set aside and be declared unconstitutional as it contravenes section 134(f) of the Constitution and section 280 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights