PRIVATE grain traders are set to mount a legal challenge on the constitutionality of the
The Herald Business understands the grain buyers were contemplating filing an urgent
This would be followed by another application at the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of Statutory Instrument 122 of 2014 with regards to it abridging the constitutional right to freedom to contract amongst other discrepancies.
The development comes after Government gazetted the SI compelling buyers to procure grain at a price pegged by the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and
Under SI (122) of 2014,
"Any company or individual that engages in the buying of grain from producers at the price less than the minimum price or designated buying point shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or both such fine and such imprisonment with the grain so purchased forfeited to the State," according to the Statutory Instrument.
However, the gazetting of the Statutory Instrument seems to have unsettled grain buyers who have resolved to take the matter to the courts seeking the suspension of the SI.
"We have engaged lawyers to challenge the Statutory Instrument," said one source who requested anonymity.
"We would want to file an urgent
"This will be followed by an application at 2 in the afternoon at the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the Statutory Instruments with regards to it abridging the constitutional right to freedom to contract among other discrepancies."
For instance, with production cost estimated at
While production costs for both crops are relatively lower in these countries compared with costs incurred by local farmers, the buyers insist that does not justify the
"There is no economic justification for a price of
"The production yield used by the Government is for three tonnes per hectare. That cannot be applied to commercial farmers who produce at an average of four tonnes per ha. Rural farmers are already subsidised by Government through inputs," another source said.
The traders argue that the
Council levies would also fall by
"The SI empowers the minister to announce minimum producer prices of grain at the beginning of marketing season and outlaws any other pricing arrangements," said GMAZ Mr Tafadzwa Musarara.
"In the absence of grounds granting exceptions, this provision criminalises contract farming which requires parties to agree on pre-planting prices."
He said the Government recently admitted that there was no fiscal space to provide for farming inputs on loan to farmers for the 2014 /15 farming season.
This means that private initiative must come in to provide loan inputs under contract farming. If contract farming is dis-enabled as it is the case now, maize production would be way below national requirement, a situation which could lead to serious food shortages.
He added that the SI literally directs all companies or individuals seeking to buy grain to register with AMA as buyers.
"No exclusion or exemptions given," said Mr Musarara. "The Agricultural Marketing Authority Act defines a buyer as a 'person (who) by himself or his agents, carries on the business of buying any agricultural product'.
"Without providing minimum transactions thresholds, this definition also include hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who are in the informal business of making maputi, rearing even 10 chickens, goats, pigs, beef and any other micro-businesses who will simply close down if forced to register as buyers and made to pay
"The SI does not discriminate or exempt petty transactions from such laborious formalities and unfairly encumbers small time maize buyers without the wherewithal to do so."
In addition, Mr Musarara said the price of
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