Judge rules it’s illegal to charge Forex for number plates, orders refunds

Judge rules it’s illegal to charge Forex for number plates, orders refunds

It’s illegal for the government to sell vehicle number plates in foreign currency, a High Court judge has ruled, adding motorists who were charged in United States dollars from July last year should claim a refund.

Justice Webster Chinamhora delivered the landmark ruling on Wednesday in a case brought by human rights activist Mfundo Mlilo who was forced to pay US$80 for temporary plates and a ZW$100 fee for inspection after his imported Subaru was impounded by Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) officers.

Mlilo’s victory against the transport and finance ministries will bring relief to thousands of motorists some of whom have been forced to drive without registrations after government gazetted regulations compelling payment for vehicle number plates and registration fees exclusively in U.S. dollars last year.

“Pursuant to an application we filed in October 2020, the High Court today set aside Statutory Instrument 161 of 2020 which obliged payment of vehicle plates in U.S. dollar,” Mlilo’s lawyer Tendai Biti tweeted.

“Justice Chinhamora ruled that ministry of transport had no power of levying charges in U.S. dollars. Government must now refund motorists.”

Through the statutory instrument, the government had pegged first-time vehicle registration at US$80 while personalized plates are going for a massive US$1,200.

First-time registration for a motorcycle and trailer registration cost US$70, respectively.

Mlilo had complained in his lawsuit that the transport ministry was “running a scam in levying and collecting U.S.$ for number plates and in the process huge amounts of money,” adding registrations should be quoted in Zimbabwe RTGS.

He said he had taken up the matter not only because of his personal experiences with the VID but because he is a human rights defender.

“Throughout my life, I have fought for the protection of human rights. I grew up in Matabeleland where my family was victims of Gukurahundi. I lost several members of my family to the atrocities associated with Gukurahundi,” he said. – ZimLive