President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has declared bond notes legal tender in spite of charges by experts that the intervention was unconstitutional.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced in May that it would introduce the currency linked to the US dollar.
According to Africa Review , the announcement at the height of serious shortages of the dollar in the country sparked a flurry of lawsuits challenging the legality of the bond notes.
President Mugabe’s decision to use his powers to declare the notes legal tender is seen as an attempt to block court challenges.
“It has been decided that the legality of bond notes as legal tender in Zimbabwe should be put beyond any measure of doubt,” Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It is to this effect that the president has today gazetted statutory instrument 133 of 2016 President Powers (Temporary Measures) Amendment of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act in issue of bond notes regulation 2016.
“The measures that have been gazetted under presidential powers regulations will fortify and underpin the existing legal framework for the issuance of the bond notes.”
However, former Finance minister Tendai Biti immediately dismissed President Mugabe’s intervention as illegal.
“The use of a presidential decree to enact law is unconstitutional, authoritarian and contemptuous of parliament,” Mr Biti, now practising as a lawyer tweeted.
“They are tearing the constitution (sic),” he added.
Former Education minister David Coltart suggested Mr Chinamasa avoided using parliament to push through the law because the bond notes were not popular even among ruling Zanu-PF party legislators.
“Zanu-PF knows they cannot not use parliament to force through the bond notes law because it will reveal just how unpopular they will be even within Zanu-PF,” he tweeted.
In 2013, President Mugabe used his powers to call elections without reforms. At that time, Mr Chinamasa was Justice minister.