Sus­pended Gweru City coun­cil­lors to re­sume duty

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Se­nior Court Re­porter

SUS­PENDED Gweru mayor Ha­mu­tendi Kom­bayi and 10 coun­cil­lors are set to re­sume their du­ties af­ter Lo­cal Govern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional Hous­ing Min­is­ter Saviour Ka­sukuwere yes­ter­day with­drew his ap­peal at the Supreme Court.

Min­is­ter Ka­sukuwere through the Civil Divi­sion in the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Of­fice had noted an ap­peal at the Supreme Court chal­leng­ing a rul­ing by Bu­l­awayo High Court judge Jus­tice Fran­cis Bere order­ing him to re­in­state the 11 coun­cil­lors who were sus­pended for al­leged abuse of of­fice.

The min­is­ter through the AG’s Of­fice with­drew the case af­ter con­ced­ing that they had no case to ar­gue be­fore the Supreme Court.

Jus­tice Bere, in Fe­bru­ary, con­firmed an in­terim or­der by his coun­ter­part Jus­tice Nokuthula Moyo to im­me­di­ately re­in­state Mayor Kom­bayi and the 10 con­cil­lors who were sus­pended by the min­is­ter on al­le­ga­tions of gross mis­con­duct, in­com­pe­tence and mis­man­age­ment of coun­cil funds and af­fairs.

Jus­tice El­iz­a­beth Gwaunza, who was sit­ting with Jus­tices Bharat Pa­tel and Chinem­biri Bhunu, dur­ing a Supreme Court cir­cuit in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day, ac­cepted the with­drawal of the min­is­ter’s ap­peal af­ter the le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of both the min­is­ter and the coun­cil­lors had pre­sented their ar­gu­ments.

In pa­pers be­fore the court, Min­is­ter Ka­sukuwere is the ap­pel­lant while the 11 coun­cil­lors were cited as re­spon­dents.

“We ac­cept the with­drawal of the ap­peal by the ap­pel­lant. There is no le­gal im­ped­i­ment to such an ac­tion and there­fore the case is hereby re­moved from the roll. The ap­pel­lant will bear the costs of the case,” said Jus­tice Gwaunza.

The min­is­ter through his lawyers, wanted the Supreme Court to con­cede that although he had acted in con­tra­ven­tion of the law, he had done so in or­der to serve pub­lic in­ter­est as the rel­e­vant law which com­pels him to ap­point a tri­bunal to sus­pend coun­cil­lors in the case of mis­con­duct, had not yet been en­acted.

But the judges would not buy the ar­gu­ment, say­ing they could not con­done a ‘fla­grant dis­re­gard of the law’. The judges queried why the min­is­ter had not sought to cor­rect his mis­take by com­ply­ing with the law af­ter the rel­e­vant Act had been amended in ac­cor­dance with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The coun­cil­lors, through their lawyers Chitere Chi­dawanyika and Part­ners had op­posed the ap­peal, say­ing the no­tice and grounds of ap­peal filed by the re­spon­dents were de­fec­tive.

The coun­cil­lors wanted the judg­ment handed down by Jus­tice Bere to re­main en­force­able, ar­gu­ing that there was no valid ap­peal pend­ing.

“I sub­mit that there is no ap­peal to talk about. All the re­spon­dents have ex­hib­ited is a clear propen­sity to frus­trate us as ap­pli­cants to en­joy the judg­ment of this hon­ourable court de­liv­ered on Fe­bru­ary 22, 2016,” said Clr Kom­bayi.

The Civil Divi­sion of the At­tor­neyGen­eral’s Of­fice ar­gued that the court a quo mis­di­rected it­self by fail­ing to take into ac­count the pub­lic in­ter­ests in its judg­ment.

They said the court a quo failed to ex­er­cise its pow­ers un­der sec­tion 175 (6) of the con­sti­tu­tion, ar­gu­ing that the cir­cum­stances of the case de­manded such pow­ers to be in­voked.

Min­is­ter Ka­sukuwere in Au­gust last year in­def­i­nitely sus­pended Clr Kom­bayi, his deputy Artwell Many­orauta and the coun­cil­lors on al­le­ga­tions of gross mis­con­duct, in­com­pe­tence and mis­man­age­ment of coun­cil funds and af­fairs.

How­ever, Jus­tice Bere agreed with the coun­cil­lors’ lawyers who had ar­gued that the min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend the coun­cil­lors and ap­point a tri­bunal to look into al­le­ga­tions of abuse of of­fice and cor­rup­tion against them were in con­tra­ven­tion of the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The judge said sec­tion 114 of the Ur­ban Coun­cils Act, which the min­is­ter used to sus­pend the coun­cil­lors and ap­point a tri­bunal, was in­con­sis­tent with sec­tion 278 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Jus­tice Bere said sec­tion 278 of the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides for the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal to ex­er­cise the func­tion of re­mov­ing from of­fice may­ors, coun­cil chair­per­sons and coun­cil­lors.

It does not vest any au­thor­ity to re­move coun­cil­lors in the min­is­ter any­more, nei­ther does it grant the min­is­ter pow­ers to es­tab­lish or con­sti­tute an in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal. — @ mash­nets

Mayor Ha­mu­tendi Kom­bayi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.