Former ZESA Employee Challenges Court Filing Fees2 years ago
A former ZESA employee who suffered a spinal injury at work has asked a court to declare constitutionally invalid a statutory instrument requiring litigants to pay filing fees.
Ken Manyellah intends to sue ZESA for US$550 000 but says the registrar of the High Court told him to deposit Z$46 982 (about US$546) – money he does not have.
He is seeking a declaratory order that the requirement for him to pay a filing fee is an impediment to justice.
Manyellah says Statutory Instrument 106/2021 which outlines court fees is in violation of provisions of the constitution. He said in an affidavit:
I rightfully aver that the filing fee demanded by the court for the summons in casu is tantamount to me being denied the right to access justice considering circumstances surrounding my case which pictures correctly my inability to pay such fee before claiming for damages against the respondent. It would now appear that justice is being reserved for the rich.
Are you a Civil Servant or Pensioner in Zimbabwe?
Get a smartphone 📱 on Zero Deposit. 24 hours to process.
What I find equally strange is the need to pay such a fee at the filing stage. I believe the justice minister should reconsider his decision to levy this filing fee at this stage and only levy it after one has been successful.
He also argues that Section 69 (3) of the constitution of Zimbabwe provides everyone with the right access to the courts, regardless of one’s financial status.
Manyellah added that the provisions of section 2 of SI 106/21 set an economic discriminatory bar as the filing fee is way beyond his reach. He argued:
This, therefore, shows that justice is now only awarded to the elite… not individuals who are economically incapacitated.
Manyellah was a plant operator at the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) from August 2000 to September 8, 2015, when his employment contract was terminated on medical grounds.
He had sustained back injuries while pulling a trolley at the Harare Power Station. Tests showed that one of his spinal discs had shifted out of position as a result of “hazardous working conditions he was exposed to by his former employer.”