Judge summons AG Machaya to court over devolution

ATTORNEY-GENERAL (AG) Advocate Prince Machaya has been summoned to appear in court on Tuesday 15 September 2020 and explain himself on government’s delays in acceding to a court application filed by water rights campaigners, a residents association and an opposition legislator demanding the enactment of devolution laws.

PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

High Court Judge Justice Edith Mushore issued the order on Thursday 10
September 2020 while presiding over the hearing of a court application
filed by Community Water Alliance Trust (CWAT), Combined Harare
Residents Association (CHRA) and Harare North constituency legislator
Hon. Allan Markham seeking an order to compel Local Government, Rural
and Urban Development Minister Hon. July Moyo, Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon Ziyambi Ziyambi and Finance and
Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube to enact laws that are
necessary to actualise provisions of Chapter 14 of the Constitution,
which provides for enactment of devolution laws.

In court, the respondents, who were represented by a law officer in
the AG’s Office only identified as Sigora, had failed to make a
commitment to settle for the order sought by CWAT, CHRA and Hon.
Markham leaving Justice Mushore to note that the law officer had been
unfairly exposed by Advocate Machaya.

Although the respondents had attempted to argue that it is not
government’s duty to enact laws but the duty of Parliament, CWAT, CHRA
and Hon. Markham argued that the constitutional obligation of
initiating laws lies with government through Cabinet as spelt out in
the Constitution.

In their application, CWAT, CHRA and Markham, who are represented by
Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, want the High Court
to compel the respondents to enact the laws envisaged in Chapter 14 of
the Constitution and Section 301 of the Constitution actualising and
bringing in devolution.

CWAT, CHRA and Markham argued that the respondents have got powers of
bringing one omnibus Bill or they can split their obligations into two
or three Bills and within four months of the granting of a court order
they should cause the gazetting of the Bill or Bills necessary to give
effect to provisions of Chapter 14 of the Constitution and Section 301
of the Constitution.
CWAT, CHRA and Hon. Markham also want the High Court to declare the
actions of Hon. Moyo in allocating ZW$400 million in 2019 and ZW$6
billion in 2020 using a formula only known to himself to different
local authorities in Zimbabwe to be declared unlawful and in breach of
the Constitution.

The applicants want the allocations by Hon. Moyo to be declared a
nullity because they were done in the absence of a legal framework to
set up devolution and in the absence of metropolitan and provincial
councils.

CWAT, CHRA and Hon. Markham argued that the High Court has a right to
enforce compliance and performance with the constitutional obligation
as provided in Section 324 of the Constitution, which provides that
all constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and
without delay.

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