HIGH Court judge Justice Jacob Manzunzu has ruled that Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Prince Machaya breached their obligations after they failed to enforce laws compelling government officials to disclose their assets.
This follows a successful court application by Harare North legislator Allan Markham (CCC) who took Ziyambi and Machaya to court demanding action on asset disclosure by public officials.
The lawmaker said corruption was now rampant because there were no laws in place to deal with graft.
Manzunzu concurred and ruled that Ziyambi and Machaya are in contempt of their Constitutional obligations.
“It is clear from the set of facts before the court that the respondents (Ziyambi and Machaya) failed to act within a reasonable time and therefore are in breach of their Constitutional obligation.
“The fact remains that Constitutional obligations, must be performed diligently and without delay. A delay of seven years is by no means classified as reasonable. The respondents gave no indication, in terms of time frame as to when the obligation will be performed apart from the fact that research has started and was meant to be completed by 30 April 2021.
“The facts also justify the granting of a mandamus .It is the period (as suggested by Markham) within which the respondents are to act which I find to be too short. Courts should make orders which are realistic of performance,” Justice Manzunzu ruled.
He ordered Ziyambi to gazette a Bill as envisaged by section 198(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe within three months from the date of the court order.
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“Ziyambi and Machaya’s failure to enact an Act of Parliament as stipulated in section 198(a) of the Constitution is a breach of section 324 of the Constitution, and they should be ordered to enact a Bill covering the issues defined in section 198(a) of the Constitution within 45 days from the date of this order,” he said.
Section 198 (a) of the Constitution states that an Act of Parliament must provide measures that require public officers to make regular disclosures of their assets, establishing a code of conducts to be observed by public officers, specifying the standards of good corporate governance to be observed by government controlled entities and other commercial entities owned or wholly controlled by the State, and to provide for the disciplining of persons who contravene the provisions of the chapter, or any code of conduct or standard.
Ziyambi and Machaya had challenged the lawsuit arguing that they were not the only players in the Legislature.
“There is, therefore, no basis to hold us at ransom when there are so many other functionaries involved in the law-making process.”
They also argued that Section 198 did not create or impose any obligation on them.