In a landmark ruling by a judge of the high court of Zimbabwe that a law that protects government assets from seizure by creditors is unconstitutional makes it possible for those owed by the government to seize anything, lawyers say.
Last week, Justice Judith Mushore ruled that a section of the State Liabilities Act that puts government assets out of the reach of creditors was unconstitutional and therefore invalid.
“Section 5 (2) of the State Liabilities Act (Chapter 8:14) be and is hereby declared to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe and is therefore invalid,” said Justice Mushore.
“It is not justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, fairness, human dignity equality and freedom,” she added.
It was under this law that the bankrupt government of Zimbabwe, which owes both local and foreign creditors more than $12-billion, used to shield its assets from seizure.
Lawyer Jacob Mafume said, as the government of Zimbabwe is technically insolvent because its liabilities are more than its assets, this means every piece of the government assets — both movable and immovable — is at risk.
“Those who want to attach [some government assets] may start with the presidential motorcade,” Mafume said.
Some former white Zimbabwean commercial farmers, who won their reparation case at the now-disbanded Southern African Development Community Tribunal that used to be based in Namibia, have had to resort to attaching and auctioning assets of the government of Zimbabwe abroad.