Zimbabweans who were fined using the nullified Statutory Instrument 25 of 2021 which saw standard fines go up by 100 percent in January will not be refunded, notwithstanding that law was unconstitutional, Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi has said.
The new fines enacted under SI saw the lowest maximum fine at Level One set at ZWL$1 000 up from ZWL$200 while the maximum fine under Level 14 was set at ZWL$1,6 million up from ZWL$800 000.
The august House on March 2 blocked the increases in the standard scale of maximum fines for each level after the Parliamentary Legal Committee found the statutory instrument setting the fines defective in not stating which minister made the regulations and without first tabling the proposed levels in Parliament as required.
Ziyambi conceded to an adverse report that was issued by the Parliament Legal Committee (PLC), which argued that the manner in which Statutory Instrument 25 of 2021 was enacted was unconstitutional.
Responding to questions from legislators a week later on what would happen to those citizens charged under the defunct law, some of whom are serving jail sentences after failing to pay those fines, Ziyambi said they will not be compensated.
“The process of enacting Statutory Instruments is such that once they are gazetted before they come to Parliament, they become effective and they are operational,” said Ziyambi.
“Should it happen that Parliament decides that it (Statutory Instrument) cannot be passed for one reason or another, the effect that it had from the day it was gazetted is not wiped away, it still stands. If you paid a fine you have paid a fine because the law at that particular moment dictated that, that was what was operational at that moment.
Ziyambi further explained that Statutory Instruments (SIs) were meant to empower ministers to address certain urgent issues without having to first go through the august House.
“In other words, it is a subsidiary power that is given to the Executive to use to enact laws before they are ratified by Parliament in terms of the Parliamentary Legal Committee looking at it, scrutinising and tabling it before Parliament,” he said.
He added that if lawmakers felt the practice was wrong, they can move a motion that it must be abandoned while giving valid reasons for that.
“But what is subsisting in terms of our laws and Constitution that is delegated legislative authority that is given by Parliament to the Executive to ensure smooth running of the country.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)