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Ncube says sued 120 times over unpopular policies

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube says he has been sued over 120 times over his unpopular economic measures.

Since becoming the Treasury boss in September 2018, Ncube has implemented several controversial decisions mostly related to currency. One such unpopular policy was allowing the settlement of US dollar debts, in local currency, if a deal was made before the introduction of the RTGS dollar, in February 2019.

During a heated Parliamentary debate last week, Harare East member of Parliament and former Finance minister, Tendai Biti, argued that Ncube had no authority to override Parliament on laws.

In response, the minister said Biti had never won a case against him concerning whether he had authority to override a piece of legislation enacted by Parliament.

“I now want to come to an issue that Hon Biti mentioned about having won a case and all that. Ah Biti, hamuna kuhwina (you did not win). Aiwa ndakahwina inini zvakakwana (no, I won resoundingly with all the documents). I will show the papers. What they were trying to do Mr Chair, they were trying to take away my powers to run the economy,” Ncube said, during parliamentary debate last week on Wednesday.

“No judge will agree with that Mr. Chair — Aiwa, no, certainly the judge concurred with me in the end that we need to ensure that the Minister of Finance has the capacity to run the economy and to change policies but of course, come to Parliament when it is necessary and I do that. Perhaps this is an issue that we can take offline.”

He continued: “It is not the issue that has to do with IMTT really but he raised it and so I had to come back. For what it is worth, I have been taken to court 120 times since 2018 and I have defended 120 cases, all successfully. That should be a lesson to colleagues that they should not spend too much time in court. VaBiti, ibvai kuma courts. Siyanai nema courts (Hon Biti, stay away from the courts. Leave the courts alone).”

However, Ncube remarks that he won over 120 cases is incorrect, as he lost a lawsuit to Harare North legislator Allan Norman Markham and the Community Water Alliance Trust in September 2019.

Ncube was sued to reveal details of all loans and guarantees incurred by the government from January 2017 to December 1, 2020 with foreign lenders, which the High Court ruled against him.

Another case in which Ncube lost was in May, when the High Court ruled that Ncube usurped Parliament’s powers through enacting Statutory Instrument 123A of 2020 which created a new tax regime for the fuel industry.

Ncube's response to Biti was also as a result of the Harare East legislator claiming that Ncube was always usurping Parliament.

“My serious concern lies with section 3(2) of the Finance Act. Section 3(2) of the Finance Act allows the minister to make any regulations which can override an Act of Parliament. I have a concern Mr Speaker that the minister cannot override what we would have enacted as Parliament. The minister cannot override Parliament and what the minister has been doing has constantly been overriding us as Parliament,” Biti said.

“So, I would like to submit to the Minister not to abuse section 3(2) and perhaps in December, propose an amendment to section 3(2) of the Finance Act when he brings in his Finance Bill. For now, it is too late so that we take away his power. We have given him the power to make any regulations, provided that any regulations he makes cannot override Parliament, which is what consistently he has been doing. That is why he is seeking that validation.”

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