ZLHR challenges ZINARA's decision...

... as scraping of licensing deadline causes confusion and public outcry

Ms Rose Gomo through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Thursday the 7th of June 2012 filled an urgent High Court Application seeking to stop Zimbabwe National Roads Association (ZINARA) from unilaterally scraping the 30 day deadline extension for new license discs to the 30th of June 2012.

The High Court application seeks to stop the police from fining, arresting and impounding vehicles whose licence discs expired on May 31 this year until June 30.  The application also seeks to bar council from towing and clamping all vehicles without licence discs.

ZLHR lodged the appeal after ZINARA communications manager Mr Augustine Moyo, on Tuesday 6 June 2012 announced that the parastatal had scrapped the 30 June 2012 vehicle licensing deadline extension   barely a week after granting reprieve to motorists. The decision has sparked an outcry from motorists and lawyers who have described it as illegal and tantamount to extortion. ZLHR described the move as insensitive, illogical and in breach of the Vehicle Licensing and Registration Act.

"Any person who, in respect on any vehicle owned by him, fails to pay the appropriate fee in respect of a licence or exemption certificate relating to that vehicle on or before the last day of the month following that in which the previous licence or exemption certificate expired or pays an amount less than the correct amount payable shall pay to the registering officer for the benefit of the Road Fund, in addition to the appropriate fee, a prescribed penalty for every month or part of a month during which the fee is so unpaid or underpaid, € reads Section 36 of the Vehicle Licensing and Registration Act

In a telephone interview Mr Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights confirmed that the     hearing will be held on Tuesday, 12 June 2012at 15:00 hours before Justice Andrew Mutema.

"The argument is that Section 36 of the Vehicle Licensing and Registration Act provides for a 30 day grace period compelling motorists to acquire new license discs and comply with the law.   So in this case ZINARA and Zimbabwe Republic Police decision to penalise motorists is in contravention of the Act as motorists, by law, should only be penalised after 30 June 2012, €said Bamu.

The conduct and actions of ZINARA and Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri are indeed against Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act, which provides that, 'an administrative authority which has the responsibility or power to take any administrative action which may affect the rights, interests or legitimate expectations of any person shall act lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner'.

According to Newsday an estimated 580 000 motorists had failed to beat the deadline of 30 May 2012. To make matters worse ZIMPOST has been blaming power cuts for the long queues and backlog.

Meanwhile, ZINARA's statement has also created some confusion as Police in Bulawayo have refused to ticket motorists without new vehicle licences saying they did not take orders from the ZINARA and have maintained that they are awaiting communication from ZINARA through the Police General Headquarters (PGHG) in Harare.

However police In Harare and other towns are reported to have mounted road blocks and are penalising $10 to motorists without new licence discs. Harare City Council Officers, on Friday the 8th of June 2012 were clamping motor vehicles in the Central Business District of Harare (CBD) without new licence disc forcing the motorists to pay $57 fine or risk getting their cars being impounded. Although,  The Herald of 9 June 2012, reported that the police had been ordered to stop penalising motorist   a survey cocnducted   by   The Coalition to Mugunje (Mashonaland West) revealed that some motorist were still being fined for not showing new licence discs showing the confusion instigated by ZINARA's decision.

The motor vehicle licence disc purchase extension period, arbitrary cut by ZINARA, is day light robbery and an infringement on the rights of motorists. It has become norm for parastals in Zimbabwe including ZESA, GMB and ZINARA to take Zimbabweans for granted and continue to rob them of their hard earned money and infringe on their rights. ZINARA, being a public authority should conduct itself in accordance with the law and should protect citizens by operating in their best interest rather than punishing them for confusion caused by ZINARA itself, as well as inefficient services at payment centres where long queues have become the order of the day.

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