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Lawyers File Court Application to Block New Tollgate Charges

The Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) says it needs nearly $2 billion to rebuild and maintain the country’s road network. (ZINARA website)

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has filed a legal challenge on the validity of the government's decision to arbitrarily hike road toll fees.

The ZLHR filed the urgent chamber application in the high court yesterday seeking to stop the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) from administering the new tollgate charges.

The lawyers are questioning the validity of the government’s move to amend roads regulations to effect immediate tollgate charges.

They say any toll fee increase will affect millions of people in Zimbabwe currently facing serious socio-economic and political challenges.

ZLHR argues that the 100 percent increase in toll gate fees announced recently by Transport Minister Obert Mpofu, was done in contravention of the provisions of section 68 of the constitution, which compels the government to seriously consider citizens’ rights before taking such action.

“… Zimbabwean citizens and every other persons have a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, and impartial, both substantively and procedurally,” says the ZLHR.

The human rights organisation further argues that the increase in the toll gate fees was also done in contravention of Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act in terms of which the minister was supposed to act lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner.

According to the ZLHR, “the government, through Hon. Mpofu's ministry recently increased road toll fees by up to 100 percent in a move regarded by most Zimbabweans as part of efforts by President Robert Mugabe's administration to boost reserves in its empty public purse.”

“Hon. Mpofu even proceeded to impose the hike in toll gate fees without bothering to respond to queries raised by ZLHR in a letter addressed to the Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister and dated 24 June 2014 over the utilisation and accountability of the money
collected from designated tolling points around the country.”

The case will be heard in the High Court on Friday. The National Constitutional Assembly has also taken Mpofu to court, saying his justification for increasing the tollgate charges is illegal since he cited the wrong law.