After Namibian officials refused to register TCIMS Industrial (Namibia) as a manufacturer for tax purposes, the company challenged the decision. The result, in a judgment from the high court in Windhoek last week, is as much a lesson in civics and constitutional decision making as in interpretation. TCIMS had applied to the minister of finance for registration of its operations as a "manufacturing activity" under the Income Tax Act, but in June 2017 it was turned down. A letter from the commissioner of inland revenue conveyed the ministerial veto. The only reason the letter gave for rejecting the application was that the "process" used by the firm did not "amount to a manufacturing activity as defined". When TCIMS challenged this, the minister’s lawyers tried to add further grounds for refusal. The court, however, was having none of it: the attempt, it said, did not conform to the rules of court; it was "irregular". The court held that while it was correct for the legislature to lea...

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