Saturday, September 27, 2008

Citizens sue Zim govt

Harare - Zimbabwe's government and its central bank have been taken to court by four citizens over "inhumane and degrading" cash withdrawal limits that see people queue for hours to obtain small amounts that barely cover basic necessities.

In the papers filed with the country's high court four Zimbabweans said the maximum daily cash withdrawal limit of 1 000 Zimbabwe dollars ($17) is an infringement of their constitutional rights.

The petitioners - Roger Chagwededza, Tinashe Gotora, Jackson Mabota and Precious Mwateyeni - want the limitation of withdrawals imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to be declared unlawful.

As a way of trying to ease cash shortages, the RBZ has put a limit on the amount of money that one can withdraw per day. The current daily limit is insufficient to buy a loaf of bread which costs at least 1 500 dollars.

The RBZ has said it will increase the daily limit to 20 000 dollars from Monday next week.

Human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the petitioners, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa late on Friday that "we have served the papers on the respondents and we are expecting to be given a hearing date of the matter by early next week."

Cash shortages are common in Zimbabwe where the economy has been declining for a decade. Once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa, the country has been ravaged by soaring inflation and unemployment.

A September 15 power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and his political opponent Morgan Tsvangirai is widely seen as the only hope of reviving the country's economy. - Sapa-dpa