Zim govt’s respect for property rights, rule of law questioned after army invasion

ZwNews Chief Correspondent

Zimbabwe’s respect for property rights and rule of law has come under spotlight, after the recent military appropriation of mining claims and the 2 percent tax on electronic payments- says constitutional watchdog.

VERITAS Zimbabwe says the state, should not exercise arbitrary action depriving people of their rights, using excessive powers of the executive.

The constitutional watchdog adds that the protection of the citizens’ rights must be based on the law, and not on individual or the elitist discretion.

Property rights are protected under the rule of law; like other rights they must not be taken away retroactively, and disputes over property rights must be resolved through the courts of law.

VERITAS says where property rights are not respected, rule of law is absent.

According to part of section 71 of the Zimbabwean Construction, no one may be compulsorily deprived of their property rights unless certain stringent measures are met, including fair compensation and the right to contest the move in a court of law.

Section 3 of this supreme law of the land states that one of the key principles of good governance binds the state and its institutions to give due respect to vested rights. And as such, the state cannot ride rough on vested rights.

VERITAS says while the Constitution recognises that government can impose taxes to be paid by citizens, or to give part of their property, such rights are limited.

Sections 289 (1) and (2) state that the burden of taxation must be shared fairly, and that no tax shall be levied except under the specific authority of the Constitution, or Act of Parliament respectively.

“These two recent moves by the state, have casted doubts on the government’s commitment to property rights, rule of law, and the Constitution,” says VERITAS.

Statutory Instrument 145/2018, gazetted parts of Darwendale to be  a cantonment (military camp), giving no one access to the place other than the military or with authorisation from the Defence Forces.

RioZim which had rights to the area in question, disputed the action in the courts, maintaining that the move has seen military or Defence Forces linked companies exploiting the minerals in the area.

Meanwhile, on the issue of the recently announced 2 per cent tax on electronic payments, the fact that it was to take immediate effect, without the enactment of an Act of Parliament, exhibited gross disrespect of the Constitution, says the watchdog.