On Wednesday High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore ruled that Section 5(2) of the State Liabilities Act (Chapter 8:14), was unconstitutional. This means that individuals and private companies will now be able to attach property which belongs to the state over outstanding debts. However, the judgment will now be referred to the Constitutional Court and only after it has been confirmed does it become effective.
This follows an application by Mutare businessman Mr Tendai Blessing Mangwiro who sued Home Affair Minister Ignatius Chombo and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa as he seeks to recover $78 900 and $1,5 million which was impounded from him by the police when he was once arrested. He is yet to receive a cent despite winning several court applications.
Justice Mushore in her ruling said:
If Section 5(2) is being used to frustrate justice as is clearly the case in the present case, then it is not justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, fairness, human dignity equality and freedom.
I have made the observation that the respondents (Ministers Chinamasa and Chombo) deliberately obstructed the court processes and positively ignored court orders under cover of the immunity.
In November last year, High Court judge Justice Amy Tsanga ruled that Minister Chombo should be jailed for 90 days after he had been convicted of contempt of court for defying a court order, that stated that he should facilitate the release of the money.