Embattled Zimbabwe People First leader Dr Joice Mujuru hit another snag yesterday after her application challenging the validity of a Presidential decree that introduced bond notes last year was struck off the roll.
The bond notes, introduced in $2 and $5 denominations and backed by a $200 million African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) loan facility, are at par with the United States dollar.
The Constitutional Court made a ruling on a procedural point raised by President Mugabe and his co-respondents.
The point being that Dr Mujuru should first challenge the Presidential (Temporary Measures) Powers Act under which the President acted to introduce the bond notes.
In their unanimous decision, the nine judges felt there was no justification of implicating the President on the basis that he breached the Constitutional application.
Dr Mujuru, who was being represented by Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku, had gone directly to the apex court challenging the action of President Mugabe in promulgating the disputed legal instrument. The court, however, felt this could not be done before challenging the law itself.
In the end, the outgoing Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled that the matter be struck off the roll.
“The court having considered the papers filed of record in this matter and submissions by counsel is of the unanimous decision that the preliminary point be upheld and the matter is struck off the roll with costs,” said Chief Justice Chidyausiku.
This means that if they want to pursue the case, Dr Mujuru and her lawyers have to go back to the drawing board and re-launch it, this time at the High Court.
President Mugabe, who was being represented by Ms Fortune Chimbaru from the Attorney-General’s Office, raised a point that Dr Mujuru was improperly before the court. Ms Chimbaru said Dr Mujuru followed a wrong procedure in bringing her application under Section 167(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
She said the application should have been made under Section 85 of the Constitution for purposes of seeking first to declare the Presidential (Temporary Measures) Powers Act unconstitutional.
Appearing for Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Advocate Thabani Mpofu argued that the Sections 2 and I67 (2) of the Constitution cited by Prof Madhuku could not ground a jurisdictional basis upon which the court could determine the case.
Dr Mujuru was seeking an order declaring that President Mugabe, by exercising Parliament’s primary law-making power through Statutory Instrument 133 of 2016, failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations to obey certain provisions of the Constitution.
Last September, the apex court threw out Dr Mujuru’s request to nullify the executive decree, saying the challenge was premature and speculative because the disputed currency was not yet in circulation.