Reprieve for Mnangagwa, setback for Nyambirai in fight over US$ ban

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By Mary Taruvinga

AN application by Harare lawyer and businessman, Tawanda Nyambirai to have government’s recent decision banning the use of multi-currencies dominated by the US dollar reversed, has been declared not urgent and will have to go through the normal process.

High Court Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled that Nyambirai’s application was not a serious issue before he removed it from the urgent roll.

Nyambirai had approached the court with an urgent chamber application arguing  the move to designate the local currency as sole legal tender in all domestic transactions and ban the use of the multi-currency basket amounted to an illegality bordering on theft.

“Considering when Statutory Instrument (SI) 33/19 was published, this application cannot jump the queue and be heard on an urgent basis. It is also noted that the applicant does not explain why no action was taken at the earliest opportunity.

“There is no canvassing of irreparable harm that is feared and whether there are no satisfactory ordinary remedies at the disposal of the applicant. Can the application be removed from the roll,” said Justice Musakwa.

Using SI 33/19 in February the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in February separated RTGS dollar and United States balances previously pegged at 1:1, effectively allowing the domestic currency to float.

The local currency has plunged since and was trading at 1:8.68 to the US dollar last Friday.

On June 24, RBZ effectively reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar and declared it the country’s sole legal tender – ending a decade of dollarisation.

In his application filed at the High Court on July 3, Nyambirai said the RTGS dollars ceased to be at par with the United States dollars after the effective date.

“Only persons with foreign obligations have been allowed compensation based on the principle that they will pay RTGS dollars for the US dollar obligations on an exchange rate of 1:1.

“By failing to provide for compensation to the holders of the RTGS balances and the bond notes and coins before their conversion to RTGS dollars, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe compulsorily deprived me and the members of the public who were holding the RTGS balances, bond notes and coins of our property in contravention of Section 71(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Nyambirai says in his application.

Nyambirai said the recently published legal tender regulations also known as Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 decreeing that the country’s interim currency is the sole legal tender was unconstitutional.