Source: JSC to play role in removal of councillors | The Herald May 27, 2016
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Judicial Service Commission will now play a major role in the removal of a councillor, a mayor or council chairperson from their office by nominating individuals to sit on any tribunal to determine their suitability to hold office.
In terms of a Local Government Bill gazetted recently, the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister no longer enjoys the sole prerogative to constitute a tribunal to inquire into the suitability of a councillor.
The Bill seeks to amend the Rural District Councils Act and Urban Councils Act to provide for mechanism for the removal of a councillor in fulfilment of section 278 of the Constitution that requires that there be an independent tribunal.
The relevant clause reads: “An independent tribunal shall consist of —
(a) a chairperson appointed by the Minister from a list of at least three and not more than nine registered legal practitioners with at least five years’ experience in private or public practice, who shall be nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (if the original list consists of fewer than nine nominees, the Minister may request an additional nominee or list of nominees so that the total number of nominees including those in the original list do not exceed nine); and subject to subsection (3), two other members appointed by the Judicial Service Commission from a list of at least three and not more than nine persons nominated by the Minister, who shall be persons experienced in local government administration, whether as former councillors or as administrators (if the original list consists of fewer than nine nominees, the Judicial Service Commission may request an additional nominee or list of nominees so that the total number of nominees including those in the original list do not exceed nine).”
If the case to be determined by the tribunal involves financial impropriety, the Bill provides that one of the members must be a person registered under the Public Accounts and Auditors Act.
It is a requirement that the responsible Minister submit to the JSC one list of at least three and not more than six persons qualified and another list of three but not more than six persons he would have nominated who should be registered under the Public Accountants and Auditors Act.
“Provided that if either of the original lists consists of fewer than six nominees, the Judicial Service Commission may request an additional nominee or list of nominees so that the total number of nominees including those in the original list do not exceed six,” reads the Bill.
The regulations also stipulate that in accepting nominations for appointment to the tribunal, the Minister or the JSC, as the case may be, shall notify each other of the names of at least two alternates for the office of chairperson of the tribunal (drawn from the list of nominees for that post) and at least two alternates for either of the two other offices (drawn from the list of nominees supplied for those posts) who shall assume the chairpersonship or membership of the tribunal in case any such office becomes vacant in the course of the tribunal’s proceedings.
“In nominating or appointing members or alternates to a tribunal, the Minister or the Judicial Service Commission, as the case may be, must be mindful of the requirement that the tribunal should consist of members of both sexes,” reads the Bill.
“The determination of the tribunal shall be final, subject to the right of an aggrieved person to bring any proceedings or decisions of the tribunal on review before the High Court in accordance with section 27 of the High Court Act (Chapter 7:06),” reads the Bill.