|Mandava Bus Terminus, Zvishavane|
|Inside a shop in Masvingo Urban|
|Chiredzi District Hospital|
|Minister Chadzamira tours the Chiredzi District Hospital isolation facility|
|A gathering for mealie-meal in Mutare|
|Sakubva Bus Terminus, Mutare|
|Sisk business centre, Masvingo Urban|
|Neshuro District Hospital|
MWENEZI - As part of efforts to prepare for a possible outbreak of coronavirus, the Mwenezi Rural District Council (RDC) has mobilised a substantial amount of resources to help improve capacity in local health delivery systems.
The local authority has since donated hand sanitizers, plastic drums, bleach, banners, posters and hand-washing buckets to Neshuro District Hospital. The items are all valued at $305 050.
Mwenezi RDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Albert Chivanga told TellZim that council was still working to mobilise more resources.
“We are working hard to get more resources that will be channelled towards our state of preparedness. We leave all the resources in the hands of hospital authorities who are more qualified than us to determine the specific needs of each area,” said Chivanga.
Speaking after a tour of the district by the Masvingo Provincial Covid-19 Taskforce on April 07, District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Itai Matibiri acknowledged council’s office and highlighted other areas that needed attention.
“I would like to thank the Mwenezi RDC for their contribution. We are already using some of the items at the hospital while others have been distributed to clinics around the district.
“There is a lot that still needs to be done here. The laundry section of the hospital rarely receives water. There is dire need for refurbishing the isolation facility and we also need personal protective clothing for medical staff,” said Dr Matibiri.
Neshuro District Hospital faces many problems including erratic water supply, rundown facilities and an acute shortage of oxygen concentrators needed in the isolation facility.
|Officer Commanding Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Masvingo province(Propol), Ass Com Taoneyi Nyazema|
Cases of journalists arrested and harassed while on duty during this lockdown are on the increase in the country with Masvingo province leading with three cases so far.
Police in Masvingo have so far arrested two journalists, Matthew Takaona of The Mirror and TellZim News’ Beatific Gumbwanda in separate incidents. They have since been released with no charges leveled against them. They also arrested four newspaper vendors and held them for several hours before releasing them without charge.
Takaona was detained by police officers manning a roadblock near Mucheke River bridge on his way to The Mirror offices in town, while Gumbwanda was arrested in Chiredzi on the instigation of an overzealous CIO officer.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Masvingo chairperson Passmore Kuzipa has condemned the continued arrest and harassment of journalists on duty.
“The arrest and harassment of journalists in Masvingo province is worrisome. I understand that both the police and the journalists are providing essential services during this lockdown, and since we all fighting to reduce the spread of Covid-19, I don’t see the reason why the police would want to feel more important than all other stakeholders who are providing essential services during this lockdown.”
“I want to urge the police starting from the Officer Commanding Masvingo Province to the least rank of Constable to respect journalists and allow them to do their work freely. Journalism is not a crime. I also want to urge my fellow colleagues to also respect the police officers on duty and produce their press cards for easy identification,” said Kuzipa.
Kuzipa said he hope the situation or the relationship between the police and journalists in the province will improve after the engagements he had with the police this week.
“I have managed to engage the officer commanding Masvingo district, the Officer In-Charge (Crime) and Masvingo Provincial Police Spokesperson over these unnecessary arrests and detention. I am sure that journalists in the province will be allowed to do their work without hindrances; in fact I hope to see the police arresting those who want to disturb journalists from doing their work,” said Kuzipa.
Can a Supreme Court judgement be appealed?
Until it delivers a judgement that concerns you, you may never know that the Supreme Court can throw people under the bus. It does not however leave everyone with goosebumps. While some will be under the bus, others will be rejoicing. This editorial explores one of the controversial Supreme Court judgements handed down this year. It also clarifies the position of the law with regards to whether or not a litigant can appeal against a Supreme Court decision.
On 20 January 2020, the Supreme Court delivered a bombshell interpretation of Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019 in the case of Zambezi Gas Zimbabwe v N.R Barber and Anor (Zambezi Gas). This is the Supreme Court judgment that concluded that United States dollar debts are now payable in Zimbabwean dollars at a one to one rate.
On 20 February 2019, the RBZ Governor announced that local electronic balances, bond notes and coins would become ‘RTGS dollars’ as part of the country’s multi-currency system. He added that dollar balances in FCA Nostro accounts and mobile payment platforms, bond notes and coins would no longer be regarded as in equal value to US dollars. On 22 February 2019, Statutory Instruments 32 and 33 of 2019 were passed to give effect to the Monetary Policy measures.
Section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019 provides that; “… all assets and liabilities that were immediately before the effective date valued and expressed in United States dollars…shall on and after the effective date be deemed to be valued in RTGS dollars, at a rate of one-to-one to the United States dollar…” The effective date referred to in the section is 22 February 2019.
On 24 June 2019, Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 was promulgated. This is the SI that brought an end to the multi-currency system in Zimbabwe. It declared the RTGS dollar as the sole legal tender for all transactions in the country. The RTGS dollar is the Zimbabwean dollar (ZWL). On 1 August 2019, the Finance (No.2) Act, 2019 was promulgated. Its section 23(1) is a restatement of SI 142 of 2019.
The Zambezi Gas case.
On 25 June 2018, Zambezi Gas Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd (hereinafter ZGZ) was ordered by the High Court to pay USD$3 885 000(plus interests and costs of suit) to N.R Barber Pvt Ltd (hereinafter Barber). The payment was for services which Barber had rendered to ZGZ. Aggrieved by the High Court’s decision, ZGZ appealed to the Supreme Court. The latter dismissed the appeal on 13 May 2019. Eight days later, ZGZ deposited ZWL 3 885 000-00 (plus interest and costs of suit) into Barber’s bank account. In total, it paid ZWL 4 136 806-54(including interests and costs of suit). Barber then queried that according to the Interbank rate, the deposited ZWL 4 136 806-54 was equivalent to only US$ 144 788-23 and hence US$3 992 018-31 was still owing. ZGZ‘s response was that in accordance with section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019, the ZWL 4 136 806-54 was the full and final settlement of the judgment debt.
Barber then engaged the services of the Sheriff to attach ZGZ’s property and sale it in a public auction to recover the ‘outstanding’ US$ 3 992 081- 31. ZGZ swiftly reacted by approaching the High Court with an urgent chamber application for an order to suspend the sale in execution and to declare the ZWL 4 136 806-54 as the full and final settlement of the debt in accordance with SI 33 of 2019. The High Court dismissed the application and ordered that the $ 4 136 806-54 be paid in US dollars and not Zimbabwean dollars.
This prompted ZGZ to take the matter back to the Supreme Court on appeal. It was then that the Supreme Court was called upon to interpret section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019 and determine whether ZGZ was supposed to pay US$ 4 136 806-54 or ZWL 4 136 806-54. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal. It ruled in favour of ZGZ and declared that in terms of SI 33 0f 2019, the deposited ZWL 4 136 806-54 was enough to settle the debt.
Analysis and implications of the case.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison. The Zambezi gas case is meat for debtors and poison for creditors. The Zambezi Gas case did not change the law regarding the settling of USD debts in Zimbabwe. As hinted earlier on, what the Supreme Court did on 20 January 2020 was to give meaning to section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019.
Of much relevance is its interpretation of the phrase ‘immediately before’. The Supreme Court elaborated that ‘immediately before’ does not mean ‘immediately before’ in the essence of time. At page 11 of the cyclostyled judgement, the Honourable Mr Chief Justice Luke Malaba explained that “The issue of the time-frame within which the liability arose in relation to the effective date of 22 February 2019 does not matter. What is of importance is the fact that the liability should have been valued before the effective date in United States dollars and was still so valued and expressed”.
The meaning of section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019 as interpreted by the Supreme Court is that as long as a debt or an asset (valued and expressed in USD) existed before 22 February 2019, such debt or asset would be regarded or considered to be valued as Zimbabwean dollars at a rate of 1 RTGS dollar to 1 US Dollar.
If therefore you had sold your house to John Doe for US$50 000 on 21 February 2019 (or any date before that) and he had only paid US$10 000 as at 22 February 2019, the amount that John Doe is entitled to pay to settle the debt in full would be ZWL $40 000. Simply put, the house is considered to be valued at ZWL 50 000 with effect from 22 February 2019.
Many would reason that a conversion of the US currency to Zimbabwean currency at a one to one rate amounts to a lesser value in Zimbabwean dollars. The fulcrum of Barber’s argument in the case was that a declaration to offset the debt in Zimbabwean dollars at a one to one rate would result in a US$ 3.9million loss. The Chief Justice however remarked that such a reasoning ‘is wrong at law’. It is no doubt that the Supreme Court’s decision is ‘poison’ to Barber and any other creditors who are owed substantial sums of money. Section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019 is no doubt the worst nightmare for creditors in Zimbabwe. For ZGZ and similar debtors, SI 33 of 2019 is good news.
Is the Supreme Court’s decision final?
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in cases other than those which the Con-court has jurisdiction. The Con-court has jurisdiction over constitutional and other specified matters. It is therefore permissible to appeal the decision of the Supreme Court. A litigant can appeal against a Supreme Court decision if and only if the appeal is on a constitutional issue.
An Application for direct access to the Con-court is sanctioned by section 167(5) of the Constitution and Part IV of the Con-Court Rules (SI 61 of 2016). Part V of the Rules provides for appeals to the Concourt. Rule 32(2) states that a litigant who is aggrieved by the decision of any lower court (including the Supreme Court) and who wishes to appeal on a constitutional matter must seek leave to appeal. Leave to appeal simply means permission to appeal. The leave to appeal must be filed to the Registrar of the Con-court within 15 days of the decision to be appealed.
It is a fact that United States dollar debts incurred prior to 22 February 2019 are now payable in Zimbabwean (RTGS) dollars at a rate of 1 US$ to 1 ZWL. In Zambezi Gas, the Supreme Court concluded that it is ‘wrong at law’ to reason that a conversion of a foreign currency denomination to a local currency denomination amounts to a lesser value in the local currency.
That section 4(1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019 is a welcome development for debtors and a nightmare for creditors is indubitable. As long as the Supreme Court decision in Zambezi Gas is not successfully appealed or as long as the constitutionality of SI 33 of 2019 is not successfully challenged, US dollar debts will remain payable in Zimbabwean dollars at a one to one rate.
Fiat Justitia Ruat Caelum!
Fidelicy Nyamukondiwa writes here his personal capacity. Contactable on 0785827154 email@example.com https://twitter.com/FidelNyams
|Chadzamira tours the Chiredzi District Hospital isolation centre|
…proximity to Mozambique, SA a vulnerability
The Masvingo Provincial Covid-19 Taskforce, which is chaired by Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira, is today on a tour of Chiredzi to assess compliance with the national lockdown restrictions and to gauge the district’s readiness to deal with a possible outbreak.
In his address, Chadzamira said he was impressed by the work being done in Chiredzi, adding that the district was endowed with remarkable implementers.
“We are pleased with the level of coordination and hard work in the district. There is a lot that has been done but there is still much more to do,” said Chadzamira.
He said Chiredzi was particularly vulnerable as it borders South Africa, which has the highest number of confirmed cases in the whole of Africa.
“There is need for further awareness campaigns and stricter enforcement as there are illegal border crossings in the district where no screening taking place,” Chadzamira said.
Chiredzi District Medical Officer (DMO) Brian Dhladhlara said the district had two isolation facilities with a capacity to handle 45 people.
“We have prepared two isolation facilities in the district; one at Chikombedzi and the other one here at Chiredzi District Hospital as part of measures to deal with any potential outbreak,” said Dhladhlara.
He thanked health-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) SolidarMed for building the Chikombedzi isolation centre which can take 30 patients at a time. The Chiredzi District Hospital isolation centre, on the other hand, can take 15 patients.
“We continue to face major challenges as we do not have adequate personal protective equipment and training on clinical management,” said Dhladhlara.
He lamented limited access to testing facilities, with all samples being sent to Harare.
Our citizen journalists in Bikita saw a Bikita RDC vehicle using a loud-speaker while conducting a Covid-19 awareness campaign at Baradzanwa business centre. Aside from shoppers in the morning, Jerera was quiet, and so was Chivi growth point. The was some short, orderly queues at fuel stations in Zvishavane, and some roadside vendors were seen in Gweru. Residents of Mutare seemed to be in their most defiant mode today, some of them openly enjoying their beer at Beta shopping centre in Dangamvura. Big grocery outlets in Masvingo were teeming with shoppers, with little evidence that people were observing basic social distancing rules. At Nyika growth point in Bikita, some shops opened around 11:00 hrs and closed at 13:00 hrs due to confusion as to the stipulated opening and closing time.
|OK supermarket, Masvingo|
|Rujeko B shopping Centre, Masvingo|
…Chiredzi police detain journalist
There is a suspected Covid-19 death at Chiredzi District Hospital and police have detained a TellZim journalist who was coming from the hospital to verify the case.
Beatific Gumbwanda was picked up by police in town today reportedly at the instigation of a Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officer soon after visiting the hospital.
Nurses at the hospital are said to be refusing to handle the deceased’s body as they do not have personal protective equipment.
The deceased, a female, was reportedly admitted at the hospital after being referred there by one Dr Dube who runs a surgery in town.
When contacted for comment, Chiredzi District Medical Officer (DMO) Brian Dhladhlara told TellZim that there was a patient who got admitted at the hospital yesterday with respiratory challenges, adding that there was panic at the hospital.
He said specimens will be sent to Harare for tests.
Meanwhile, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Masvingo provincial advocacy chairperson, Passmore Kuzipa has organised a lawyer to assist Gumbwanda who is currently detained at Chiredzi Police Station.
On he 9th day of the lockdown, our citizen journalists in Mutare witnessed shoppers scurrying for cover when an truck with soldiers and police officers in anti-riot gear arrived at Dangamvura TM supermarket to break a disorderly mealie-meal queue. Rutenga growth point in Mwenzi district was quiet but there was also a seemingly problematic mealie-meal queue at one shop. Neshuro growth point was dead quiet, with basic commodities shops being closed long before the stipulated 13:00 hrs closing time. Some residents said business people do not bother to open anymore as there was too much confusion about he authorised trading hours. Similarly, Chivi growth point was dead quiet. In Chiredzi, a vegetable market popularly known as the Banana Market, is now operating five hours a day from 07:00 - 09: 00 hrs and 15:00 - 17:00 hrs. Many shebeens have sprouted, getting their stock from such big shops as TM Pick n Pay, OK, N.Richards, Metro Peach and Browne Wholesalers.
All five pharmacies in Chiredzi were open today.
Villagers of Chiredzi South are still travelling, mainly using a commuter omnibus which is now operating during the night. In Zaka, traditional brews are still being made in some villages.
|A traditional brew in Zaka|
|N. Richards supermarker, Mpandawana|
|Mwenezi RDC offices, Neshuro|
|TM supermarker, Dangamvura, Mutare|
|Maringire shopping centre, Chivi|
|Neshuro growth point, Mwenezi|
|Neshuro District Hospital|
|The isolation facility at Silveira Mission Hospital can accommodate only three patients at a time|
Less than 24 hours after being criticised for its miserably insufficient Covid-19 isolation holding capacity, Bikita district has increased the number of facilities from one to three, and the holding capacity from three to 14.
The Covid-19 Masvingo Provincial Taskforce was in Bikita yesterday where serious misgivings were raised against the district’s very small isolation centre which can accommodate a mere three patients at a time.
Bikita Rural District Council (
Peter Chibhi today told TellZim that authorities had now identified a new
facility at Mashoko Mission Hospital and yet another one at Bikita Rural
District Hospital both of which could cumulatively take 11 more patients.
“We have realised that we are in a precarious situation and have therefore, found two more isolation centres. We are putting everything in place and we hope we will be able to create more space,” said Chibhi.
The taskforce, which is on a whirlwind tour of the province to assess compliance with the national lockdown and preparedness to deal with Covid-19 positive cases, is chaired by the Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira.
In the wake of the visit, TellZim reported how Bikita district fared worse than everyone else in terms of both compliance and preparedness, with many people and shops at Nyika growth point and along the main road doing business the usual way.
District health authorities converted a mortuary chapel at Silveira Mission Hospital into an isolation centre, but it lacks such basics as oxygen concentrators, and, worse still, can only accommodate three patients.
Senator Anna Rungani had also complained that lax enforcement was encouraging villagers to violate lockdown regulations at will.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Officer Commanding Masvingo Province (PROPOL) Ass Com Taoneyi Nyazema promised to beef up policing staff in the district.
|Neshuro growth point, Mwenezi|
Bikita district has so far been identified as the worst offending district in Masvingo province in terms of the non-compliance with the lockdown due to lax enforcement on the part of police. There was a bustle of life at Nyika growth point, and a hardware was see doing business even though hardwares are not defined as providers of essentials in terms of the lockdown order. Mishika-shika are also operating, and they have devised a way of avoiding police roadblocks, and these are playing a huge role in defeating the purpose of the lockdown. In Zaka, people are selling agricultural produce on the roadsides, but Jerera growth point was generally quiet. Light industries in Mutare are now operating at home, behind gated walls. Passengers were captured alighting an overloaded Zupco bus in Masvingo. Gutu was generally quiet and council there has been asked to find a way of allowing a limited number of informal traders to do business so as to reduce inconveniences for those that need vegetables. Gutu RDC seems to be the most serious of all rural local authorities in enforcing the lockdown.
|Chivi growth point|
|Chivi groiwth point|
|Gomba shopping centre, Runyararo West, Masvingo|
|Mourners on a lorry in Mutare|
|Mutare light industry at home|
|Vendors on a highway in Zaka|