Court gives govt up to Sept 7 to make submissions

HARARE - The respondents in a case in which three associations representing residents in Harare and Chitungwiza are seeking to overturn the appointment of commissions in their localities have been asked to make their representations by next week Tuesday.

At the first hearing on Friday last week, High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore said the matter would be stood down until September 7 after which she will give a default judgment if no responses have been heard.

“In terms of Rule 244 of the High Court Rules of 1971, the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth respondents or any other interested parties to this matter be and are hereby ordered to make representations as to whether this matter ought to be treated as urgent,” Mushore said.

“First and second respondents be and are hereby directed to file their opposing affidavits by the fifth of September by close of business, failure of which there shall be no bar to the matter proceeding to finality. Matter is stood down and will resume on September 7, 2018 at 11 am. It is so directed”.

Local Government minister July Moyo, Harare town clerk, Chitungwiza town clerk and the six commissioners for both councils were cited as respondents in the matter.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) along with the Community Water Alliance and the Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association have taken Moyo to court over the appointment of caretaker commissions.

They argue that the move was in contravention of the Constitution.

In the application before the court, the residents want an order to be made that Moyo’s decision to appoint the commissions to preside over Harare City Council and Chitungwiza Town Council contravene section 277 (3) of the Constitution and are invalid.

The pressure groups stated that at law, all councillors ought to have assumed office nine days after the announcement of winners in the just ended Harmonised elections.

Chra executive director Mfundo Mlilo is on record arguing that past experiences of caretaker commissions have led to disasters in local authorities.

“There is no justifiable reason why our elected councillors are not working for the people.

“The whole thing smells of gross corruption as was the case with previous commissions.

“Their reporting structure which requires them to declare allegiance only to the minister and not people who voted them into such positions makes it difficult for residents to hold them accountable.

“Besides that the experience we have had with commissions is not good for example; Harare’s water problems and the cholera epidemic can be traced back to Sekesayi Makwavarara’s commission,” Mlilo said.

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