BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/MOSES MATENGA
Government yesterday failed in its bid to stop Harare mayor Jacob Mafume from reporting for duty claiming he would interfere with investigations into his alleged abuse of office charges.
Mafume was suspended from work in December last year over alleged shady land deals, but was not brought before a disciplinary committee within 45 days as is required by the Constitution.
This then led him to report to work last month.
But prosecutor Michael Reza told magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guuriro that if Mafume continued to go to work, he might put pressure on the witnesses who are all council workers.
“We are seeking to apply for alteration of bail conditions of the accused in terms of Section 126 of the Criminal Law Codification. We ask for the accused not to interfere with witnesses,” Reza said.
“So it is in respect of that condition where the State is seeking to say the accused person should not visit Town House or any municipal offices when he is paying bills.”
But Mafume’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu challenged the State saying the accused was summoned to appear in court, but no facts were given to him on what he was needed for.
“The accused was summoned to appear in court today. In view of the summons, we do not know why he is in court. We indicated that we are here because it’s a court of law, but we were not aware why we were here,” Mpofu said.
“It leaves us in this disposition and we do not know the basis of the application. We do not know the reasons why the witnesses are here. We were supposed to be given statements from the witnesses so that we can take instruction on the way forward.”
Reza, however, said the summons clearly showed that the State wanted to alter Mafume’s bail conditions.
Mpofu, however, said his client had not breached any condition and his going to work was not unlawful.
“A breach of what condition, the second is additional of what bail conditions?” Mpofu asked.
Magistrate Muchuchuti-Guuriro, however, ruled that the State must serve the accused with full information on the application they intended to make and postponed the matter to tomorrow.
She then asked Reza why they wanted to stop the accused from going to Town House.
Reza said Mafume was facing criminal abuse of office charges and he might use his influence on witnesses.
“The record is of criminal abuse of duty. The accused used his influence to get two stands and all the witnesses are workers of the Harare City Council.”
Mpofu, however, said he would only respond when he receives facts of the State’s application.
Meanwhile, Harare City Council was on Tuesday forced to call off a full council meeting for the second time in two months after failing to meet the required quorum due to the recall of several MDC Alliance councillors by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T.
The MDC-T recalled 23 of the 45 MDC Alliance councillors last year and created chaos that has seen the city operating with two mayors, Mafume and Stewart Mutizwa, who is the acting mayor.
This has halted business at the local authority as the councillors continue to haggle, while service delivery remains at an all-time low.
Mafume confirmed yesterday that the meeting did not take place after councillors were threatened with arrest by provincial development co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti, who insists that Mtizwa is in charge of council affairs.
Muguti was not picking calls yesterday.
Full council meetings are responsible for making resolutions that will be implemented by the technocrats and failure to hold these meetings have a bearing on social service delivery.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said there was need for councillors to take their work seriously and the government to stop interfering in council business.
“CHRA calls on the remaining councillors to take council business seriously by attending full council meetings as this has implications on social service delivery and serious political costs ahead of 2023 elections,” the residents said.
Government has often accused the opposition of running down Harare and failing to, among other things provide potable water, refurbish roads and collect refuse.