Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has for the past six months been waiting for the Registrar of the High Court to set down for hearing an application challenging the state-run Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) monopoly and some restrictions on informal traders as directed by the Supreme Court.
On 12 March 2021, Supreme Court Judges faulted Justice Mary Zimba-Dube for misdirecting herself when she dismissed an application challenging the ZUPCO monopoly and some restrictions on informal traders and ordered that the matter be remitted to the High Court to be heard by a different Judge.
In their application, which was filed in 2020, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA), Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) and Constantine Chaza, represented by Tendai Biti of ZLHR, argued that the imposition of national lockdown regulations and the ban on informal sector trading imposed by government which included a ban on private commuter omnibuses was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
They also argued that the ban created an unlawful monopoly for ZUPCO.
ZCIEA, PAZ and Chaza want some registered transport operators and other operators to be allowed to ferry passengers on their licenced routes subject to compliance with relevant national lockdown conditions such as social distancing, temperature testing and the use of hand sanitisers.
ZICEA, PAZ and Chaza also argued that the national lockdown regulations violated their members’’ constitutional rights to freedom of profession, trade or occupation enshrined in section 64 of the Constitution. In her judgment issued on 26 May 2020, Justice Zimba-Dube dismissed ZCIEA, PAZ and Chaza’s application after ruling that there was no discrimination against private commuter omnibus as they could operate under ZUPCO and that opening the informal sector could fuel the spread of coronavirus.
However, for six months, ZCIEA, PAZ and Chaza have been keenly waiting for the Registrar of the High Court to set down the matter for hearing and determination before a different Judge as directed by the Supreme Court on 12 March 2021.