Judgment reserved in Zupco case


HIGH Court judge Mary Zimba-Dube has reserved judgment in an application in which private bus operators and individuals in the informal sector are demanding permission to operate during the lockdown period imposed by government to curb the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), the Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (Paz) and Constantine Chaza, are the applicants in the matter, while Health minister Obadiah Moyo, Local Government minister July Moyo, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, Transport minister Biggie Matiza, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) were cited as respondents.

The organisations’ lawyer, Tendai Biti, yesterday confirmed to the Daily News that Zimba-Dube had reserved ruling after hearing submissions from both parties.

“The judgment was reserved. The judge wanted to first see if government would lift the Zupco monopoly or allow the informal sector to re-open in the lockdown review,” Biti said.

In the application, the organisations told the court the lockdown measures put in place by the government had significantly affected their operations, as they were no longer able to fend for their families.

In an affidavit, ZCIEA secretary-general Wisborn Malaya said since the lockdown measures were put in place, their members have been failing to pay rent and buy food for their families.

“Whilst we are asserting that there is a duty to protect the right to health through measures provided for in terms of the Public Health Act, we maintain that a balance must always be made.

“Shutting down the economy completely, as the 1st respondent did without ensuring we were able to eat and feed our families, was a wrong and incorrect balance,” Malaya said.

According to Malaya, his organisation represents the interests of workers in the informal sector, including vendors, cross-border traders, artisanal miners, hairdressers, backyard mechanics, kombi drivers and kombi owners, among others.

“Our formal membership is more than 13 000 people but we are theoretically the biggest union in Zimbabwe considering that 95 percent of people are no longer in formal employment.

“We are also concerned with the monopoly that has been given to Zupco to ferry people. Most of our members live in the townships. Zupco has less than 160 buses. It cannot cater for passengers in Harare alone,” he said.

Paz president Tafadzwa Goliati also told the court their members were significantly affected by transport challenges and are forced to walk to and from home.

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