Chitungwiza mayor remains in custody

Source: Chitungwiza mayor remains in custody | Herald (Africa)

Chitungwiza Mayor Lovemore Maiko (in jersey) being escorted into the Harare Magistrate Courts recently. — Picture: Lee Maidza

Tendai Rupapa

Senior Reporter

Chitungwiza Mayor Lovemore Maiko will remain in custody until tomorrow pending the court’s decision on his bail application on charges of criminal abuse of office.

Maiko allegedly recommended the demotion of the council’s district officer Tendai Chinganga, who had been seconded to a ministerial task force, which was investigating the misappropriation of State and council land.

He caused the elevation of Alex Mukwewa from being a housing administrator to housing manager, a post which had been frozen.

Maiko initially appeared in court on Tuesday and was remanded in custody to yesterday for continuation of bail application and after hearing arguments from both parties, regional magistrate,Ms Estere Chivasa, deferred the matter to tomorrow for determination.

In his application, Maiko, through his lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, insisted that he was a suitable candidate for bail and that he was not a flight risk.

“My client knew of the arrest warrant from October 29 and was later arrested on November 2,” said Mr Muchadehama. “If he wanted to flee, he would have done so in between the dates. He has been cooperating with the police during investigations.”

Prosecutor Mr Lancelot Mutsokoti opposed the application on the basis of interference and abscondment.

He called the investigating officer, Detective Assistant Inspector Mutumbi, who corroborated the State’s assertion that Maiko was likely to interfere with witnesses.

Mr Mutsokoti said there was a witness who was now afraid to testify against Maiko.

Det Asst-Insp Mutumbi told the court that there was a likelihood of abscondment if Maiko was released on bail.

Allegations are that on October 27, Maiko learnt that the Chitungwiza Municipality public works committee had resolved to refer the reassignment of Chinganga to a non-existing post of revamping council libraries and halls.

On the same date, the State alleged that Maiko disregarded the need for the general purpose committee to deliberate on the matter and hurriedly arranged for a special council meeting without the support of a third of full council or receiving in writing from at least six councillors the urgent need for such meeting knowingly and intentionally disregarding a section of the Urban Council’s Act.

He then directed Mr Godwin Mvere, the chief security officer, to place a notice for the meeting, with only two items listed on the agenda.

It is alleged that the following day and a few hours before commencement of the meeting, Maiko directed Mr Mvere to come up with a supplementary agenda, where he directed that although not appearing on the agenda, as provided in notice for meeting, the reassignment of Chinganga should top the list of urgent items for discussion in the special council meeting. He further directed Mvere to include, among other things, the elevation of Mukwewa from the post of housing administrator to housing manager.

Maiko knew that Mukwewa was on a charge of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.

He had allegedly committed the offence while he was the acting housing director of the Chitungwiza Municipality.

By adding matters for discussion in the meeting, Maiko disregarded section 83 (4) of Urban Councils Act chapter 29:15.

He allegedly presided over the meeting and went on to recommend the reassignment of Chinganga and promoted Mukwewa to an already frozen position of housing manager.

According to the State, Maiko’s actions were a deliberate effort meant to disfavour Chinganga.

In addition, he favoured Mukwewa who should have been on suspension pending hearing before the courts.

It was not his duty to unfreeze the post, the court heard.

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