High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta has dismissed an application by human rights activist Mfundo Mlilo challenging the legality of the 2 percent tax on money transfers which was recently imposed by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube. Justice Chatakuta said the matter was not urgent and ruled that it should be placed on the ordinary roll. The judge questioned why the application had been lodged almost two weeks after the tax was announced. Part of the letter from the registrar of the High Court reads,
Re: MFUNDO MLILO v MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: HC 9498/18
The above urgent chamber application was placed before Honourable Chatukuta J who then commented as follows:
“(1) The applicant having become aware of the decision of the Minister of Finance on 3 October 2018 does not explain why it took him almost two weeks to file the present application.
(2) The perception by the applicant that the tax is illegal is not a basis for urgency.
The matter is not urgent and is accordingly removed from the urgent chamber application roll.”
Mlilo who is being represented by Tendai Biti is arguing that Zimbabwe’s Constitution does not allow the government to repeal sections of an Act of Parliament without it being debated and passed by the National Assembly. Said Mlilo,
Our contention is that the purported increase is unlawful because the minister has purported to change a section of an Act of Parliament which in itself is unconstitutional as he should have tabled a Bill in Parliament first, which he has not done. We argue that the tax in itself is irrational because the government has been excessively borrowing and now that it has a runaway public debt it is now turning to citizens to cover up for its expenditure. We have no idea what the money was used for.