State Liabilities Act challenged

A MUTARE businessman has filed a High Court application challenging the State Liabilities Act, which bars litigants from attaching State property, arguing that government officials are abusing the Act to evade complying with court orders.

Tendai Mangwiro filed the application after he won his case last year to be reimbursed $78 900, which was confiscated by the police following his arrest in 2008 on theft charges.

Mangwiro was, however, acquitted in 2012, prompting him to demand the confiscated amount back, which the High Court has since decreed must be paid back.

Since the order was granted, confirmations were made by the Home Affairs ministry that it was proceeding to repay the money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

However, despite the assurance that the process to pay was underway, Mangwiro has not yet received his money.

Following the failure to comply with the court order, Mangwiro, through his lawyer Rungano Mahuni, filed an application for mandamus against Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo.

The application was granted in Mangwiro’s favour, giving Chombo 14 days to comply with the court order, failure of which he was to be declared to be in contempt of court.

The 14-day period lapsed, forcing Mangwiro to file another application for Chombo to be arrested on contempt of court charges.

“…I am left with no other legal recourse except to approach this…court to have Section 5 of the State Liabilities Act…declared unconstitutional as this is the only reason that is precluding me from having my court order satisfied,” Mangwiro said.

He now seeks an order declaring the Act unconstitutional and invalid because it prevents the attachment of State property.

“Although Section 5 (2) allows respondent (Chombo) to cause payment to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, however, the same section as it stands does not positively oblige the State to comply with orders as it should.

“There is no mechanism which is precise and effective as regards to the satisfaction of court orders,” he said.

Mangwiro further said the more expeditious way of obtaining satisfaction of court orders is execution of State property, since the laid down procedure available is ineffective.

He said Chombo was taking advantage of the State Liabilities Act to his favour and abusing it to evade compliance.

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