HARARE – Zimbabwe United Residents and Ratepayers Association (Zurra) are suing Local Government minister July Moyo, pictured, for appointing commissions to run affairs in councils.
According to Mfundo Mlilo, Zurra has begun consultations with their lawyers on the matter which they say will be filed soon.
Following the July 30 Harmonised elections and the presidential election court challenge, Moyo went ahead and appointed caretaker commissions.
Section 277(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that “except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) or an Act of Parliament, mayors, chairpersons and councillors of local authorities assume office on the 9th day after the announcement of the results of the general election in which the councillors were elected”.
“Zurra is in the process of filing an urgent application with the High Court seeking an order to overturn and outlaw the decision by Moyo to appoint commissions in various local authorities.
“This decision is obviously illegal and cannot be tolerated,” Mlilo said.
“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 for anything.
“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.
He added that the lawsuit is likely to be filed today or tomorrow by their counsel Denford Halimani.
Halimani confirmed he was their representative and would be taking the application soon without giving a specific date.
“Yes, I have been tasked with filing the application on behalf of Zurra. Right now I cannot say when exactly it will be but either by today or tomorrow (Thursday) the application will be filed,” Halimani said.
Among some of the arguments that Zurra raised are the constitutionality of the commissions considering the provisions of the Local Government Amendment Act.
Community Water Alliance chairperson Hildaberta Rwambiwa said the commissions were not legally logical as Section 80(1) of the Urban Councils Act explicitly states the conditions under which a minister may appoint such.
“Section 80(1) provides for appointment of caretaker commissions if at any time (a) there are no elected councillors for the council area (b) all elected councillors for the council area have been suspended or imprisoned.
“The issue of commissions is clearly spelt out in the High Court case of Matawu versus minister of Local Government,” she said.