Hewlett v Minister of Finance & Another 1981 ZLR 571 S Crt: Repeal of Victims of Terrorism (Compensation) Act. Debts owed by the state, such as those arising from the actual awards of compensation, are property within the meaning of Constitution.
Applicant had been awarded an amount under the Victims of Terrorism (Compensation) Act. Before payment the Act was repealed. Applicant alleged a contravention of the Decleration of Rights in that the repealing Act contravened section 16 of the Decleration which protected property from compulsory acquisition. He argued that the right to receive compensation under the Act was property was property within the meaning of section 16.
Held that in interpreting a constitution, the principles of interpretation are no different from those governing the interpretation of other legislation, but character must be given to the character and origin of the document and interpretation must be guided by the principles of giving full recognition and effect to those fundamental rights and freedoms set out in the constitution. It is not permissible to take into account proposals and discussions in the preparation of the constitution.
Debts owed by the state, such as those arising from the actual awards of compensation, are property within the meaning of section 16.
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