On the 18th of September the High Court passed a ruling that the infamous Statutory Instrument 205 of 2018 was in fact unconstitutional and therefore the Intermediated Monetary Transfer Tax or 2% was unconstitutional. This brought much excitement over what it means for people. However later in the day Finance Minister and Architect of the 2% tax Mthuli Ncube sent out a letter stating that the tax would still be levied as it had bee brought into law through the Finance Act, after the fact.
The case was argued by former Finance Minister Tendai Biti who presented that the statutory instrument had superseded Acts of parliament. This according to the constitution was not legal. The ruling sent the Zimbabwean public into a frenzy but mostly of confusion as the prevailing question was “what now”?. High Court Justice Happious Zhou presided over the matter.
It didnt take long to know what was next as Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube was quick to respond with a letter that was splashed on all available outlets stating that the 2% was later brought into law by the Finance Act and therefore the victory of Mr Biti was hollow. The ministry of finance went into overdrive to send the message as George Guvamatanga, the permanent secretary, was also busy sending out the same message.
What’s important to note here is just how many statutory instruments are used in the running of the nation. Statutory instruments are the preferred tool of the government it seems. As at June 2019 145 statutory instruments had been issued by government. In 2018 a whopping 279 statutory instruments were issued, nearly one for every business day. They are likely preferred for their expediency as going through parliament would require public debate and voting by both houses before ascension to the president and signing into law. The patchwork nature to law making cannot operate under such scrutiny.
What will come of the 2% tax going forward? The law was indeed passed via an act of parliament after the fact and based on that it is likely to be business as usual. Minister Ncube might not like to spend too much time dwelling on the matter as he bigger fires to deal with given the free fall of the Zimbabwean dollar at present.