Government is required to refund individuals who were improperly fined for various transgressions under the use of Statutory Instrument 25/2021 which increased all deposit fines but has now been found to be ultra vires the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and therefore unconstitutional.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said the enforcement of Statutory Instrument 25/2021 is a legal nullity and Government was required by law to refund all individuals who had been fined under that period.
“They have to be refunded. That means there was no statutory instrument upon which that law was applied. They have to be refunded,” Madhuku told Zim Morning Post.
The Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) on Tuesday issued an adverse report on a Statutory Instrument which purportedly authorised Government to increase deposit fines for people who breach national lockdown regulations and ruled that the piece of legislation is unconstitutional.
It established that the Government erred by purporting to approve increases in deposit fines which police officers manning checkpoints and roadblocks had already begun to implement during the national lockdown period.
In its report which was tabled before a session held in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, PLC Chairperson Jonathan Samukange said the PLC had concluded that Statutory Instrument 25/2021, which was gazetted in an Extraordinary Gazette published on Monday 25 January 2021 and which had the effect of increasing all deposit fines was ultra vires the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and therefore unconstitutional.
Samukange said the preamble of Statutory Instrument 25/2021 does not specify the Minister who had enacted the subsidiary legislation and this was in contravention of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which provides that either the Minister of Finance and Economic Development or the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs can increase the Standard Scale of Fines through a Statutory Instrument.
The PLC also stated that a draft of the Standard Scale of Fines was not tabled in Parliament before the Statutory Instrument was published as required by law.