Judgment reserved in Harare mayor dispute

HARARE - The High Court declined to make an immediate ruling on Friday in a case in which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is seeking an order to stop Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere from suspending, dismissing or removing Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni.

High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni reserved judgment in the case, one strand in a web of legal actions filed in the wake of the second suspension of Manyenyeni over accusations that he acted unlawfully and defied Kasukuwere’s directive not to appoint seasoned banker James Mushore to the position of Harare town clerk.

The MDC, represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyers Lovemore Madhuku, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, Bellinda Chinowawa and David Hofisi, had filed the urgent chamber application on Friday, arguing that Kasukuwere was not permitted by Section 114 of the Urban Councils Act, as read with Section 278 of the new Constitution, to re-suspend a mayor whose suspension has lapsed by operation of law, in circumstances where the grounds for the re-suspension are based on facts which were known to the Local Government minister at the time of the first suspension.

Kasukuwere first suspended Manyenyeni from serving as mayor on April 20 after accusing him of appointing Mushore town clerk without approval from the Local Government Board.

Manyenyeni only resumed duty on June 6, as Kasukuwere failed to cause a thorough investigation to be conducted within 45 days as envisaged by Section 114 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) as had been ordered by High Court judge Justice Mary-Zimba Dube, when the MDC first challenged the suspension of the mayor in April.

But on June 7, Kasukuwere issued Manyenyeni with a fresh letter of suspension, citing some grounds of misconduct purportedly committed in 2015.

In the urgent chamber application, Madhuku, Chimbga, Chinowawa and Hofisi argued that Kasukuwere could not split facts and suspend Manyenyeni in installments as doing so amounts to abuse of process.

The human rights lawyers charged that in suspending Manyenyeni, the Local Government minister had exercised powers that are non-existent and that are not in accordance with the Constitution.

Madhuku, Chimbga, Chinowawa and Hofisi want the High Court to issue an order setting aside the letter of re-suspension of the mayor and for him to be allowed to continue to carry out council business and receive his allowances in line with his post.

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