The High Court of Zimbabwe reserved judgement in the RTGS challenge brought forward by Penelope Douglas Stone and Richard Harold Stuart Beattie trading as Stone/Beattie Studio. The firm sought an order to compel CABS to make available to them US$142000 that they deposited in 2016 as US dollars and not RTGS dollars.
Stone/Beattie represented by Tendai Biti demanded that the money they had deposited in US dollars should be made available to them in US dollars and not RTGS dollars. Advocate Lewis Uriri representing CABS and the Reserve Bank argued that the RTGS dollar has become legal tender and cited the provision of Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019 which provided that assets and liabilities denominated as US dollars prior to February 22, 2019, would be translated to RTGS dollars at the rate of 1:1. Meaning CABS were within their rights to Provide ZWL$142000 as full settlement for the deposit.
High Court Justice Happias Zhou reserved judgement in the case.
What does this mean?
In simple terms, it means that amounts deposited as US dollars, prior to 22 February 2019 are equal to their equivalent in RTGS dollars, consistent with SI 33 of 2019. There are exceptions for foreign domiciled assets & liabilities and amounts deposited into post-October 2018 Nostro Foreign Currency Accounts. The hopes of recovering any amounts that were believed to be US dollars have been severely dented if not ended. The monetary policy statement that ushered in the RTGS dollar was viewed as another move to prejudice those who had placed faith in the banking system and deposited amounts in US dollars.
The case may be far from over as Stone/Beattie Studio can appeal the case at the Constitutional Court if they can prove that the setting aside of judgement or the provision of SI 33 of 2019 violates the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It remains to be seen if they will pursue this route.