AN AGGRIEVED Harare resident has issued a one-day ultimatum to Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo to rescind his controversial re-appointment of Harare City Council (HCC) Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi who was recently suspended by Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni
In a letter delivered to Chombo’s offices on Tuesday 4 February 2014, Tawanda Zhuwarara, a resident and ratepayer of the HCC, through his lawyer, Bellinda Chinowawa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), demanded that Chombo should rescind his decision on Mahachi by 14:00 hours on Wednesday 5 February 2014 because it was premature and a nullity at law.
The Harare resident said he was so distressed after reading articles published in local newspapers on 3 February 2014 stating that Chombo had invoked some provisions of Section 314 of the Urban Councils Act to reverse the decision by Mayor Manyenyeni to suspend Dr Mahachi. Mahachi
was suspended by Manyenyeni on Wednesday 29 January 2014 in conformity with the Mayor’s exercise of his prerogative in terms of Section 139 (3) (a) of the Urban Councils Act for allegedly failing to properly discharge his duties after he refused, failed and neglected to give effect to a Council resolution to provide the salary and benefits schedule of all Harare City Council senior employees including his own schedule.
The suspension, Manyenyeni said would pave the way to probe Dr Mahachi’s conduct and also launch investigations into the affairs and finances of the HCC. But Chombo overturned Dr Mahachi’s suspension on 1 February 2014 on the basis that he was empowered under Section 134 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) to reverse Manyenyeni’s decision.
Zhuwarara said Chombo’s actions are objectionable and that his purported powers in terms of Section 314 of the Urban Councils Act can only be exercised in regards to Council and not Mayoral decisions. The Harare resident said Chombo’s directive was premature and a nullity at law since the HCC is yet to make its determination in terms of Section 139 (4) of the Urban Councils Act and only after the process in terms of Section 139 (4) of the Urban Councils Act has been completed does the suspension of Dr Mahachi become a resolution of the Council.
As a rate paying resident of Harare, Zhuwarara asked Chombo to rescind his directive for the reappointment of Dr Mahachi forthwith, and allow the procedures in terms of Section 139 (4) of the Urban Councils Act to be followed to their logical conclusion. The human rights lawyer charged that it is in the public interest to ensure transparency in the use of public funds and as a ratepayer he has a real and substantial interest in how public funds are being used.