New Zimbabwe.com

HIGH COURT: Minister & AG in breach of constitution, fail to enforce asset disclosure by Govt officials; CCC legislator took matter to court

Spread This News

By Mary Taruvinga  


HIGH Court judge, Justice Jacob Manzunzu has ruled that justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Attorney General Prince Machaya are in breach of their constitutional obligations after they failed to enforce laws compelling government officials to disclose their assets.

This follows a successful application by opposition parliamentarian, Allan Markham who took Ziyambi and Machaya to court, demanding action.

The lawmaker said corruption was now rampant because there are no laws in place.

Manzunzu concurred with Markham ruling that the two were indeed in contempt of constitutional obligations.

“It is clear from the set of facts before the court that the respondents (Ziyambi and Machaya ) failed to act within a reasonable time and therefore are in breach of the constitutional  obligation,” said the judge.

“The fact remains that Constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay. A delay of seven years is by no means classified as reasonable. The respondents gave no indication, in terms of time frame as to when the obligation will be performed apart from the fact that research has started and was meant to be completed by 30 April 2021.

“The fact also justify the granting of a mandamus. It is the period ( as suggested by  Markham ) within which the respondents are to act which I find to be too short. Courts should make orders which are realistic of performance.”

RELATED:

The judge ordered Ziyambi to gazette the bill envisaged by section 198(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe within three months from the date of this order.

“Ziyambi and Machaya’s failure to enact an Act of parliament stipulated in section 198(a) of the Constitution is a breach of  section 324 of the Constitution  and they  should be ordered  to enact  a bill covering the issues defined in section 198(a)  of the Constitution within 45 days from the date of this order,” he said.

Section 198 (a) of the Constitution states that an act of parliament must provide measures  to enforce the provisions of this Chapter, including measures requiring public officers to make regular disclosures of their assets, establishing code of conducts  to be observed  by public officers, specifying  the standards  of good  corporate governance  to be observed  by government  controlled  entities  and other commercial  entities owned  or wholly  controlled  by the State, providing  for the disciplining of persons  who contravene  the provisions  of the Chapter  or any code of conduct or standard.

Ziyambi and Machaya had challenged the lawsuit arguing they were not the only players in the legislature.

The two however, did not deny that they contributed to the process.

“Such process is a collective responsibility with other players like parliament and cabinet which ought to have been joined.

“There is therefore no basis to hold us at ransom when there are so many other functionaries involved in the law making process.”

They also argued that section 198 did not create or impose any obligation on them.