via Kombayi sacking unlawful – The Zimbabwean 16.9.2015
Local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere violated the constitution in suspending Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and other MDC-T councillors, a top lawyer has said.
In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean this week, Esau Mandipa – who is representing the councillors in their urgent High Court application to stop Kasukuwere’s move – said a local government minister does not have power to arbitrarily toss around elected councillors.
“Section 278 of the new constitution says that the local government minister cannot arbitrarily fire councillors. He must seek that power from the Parliament. In this case, that has not been done by Kasukuwere. He just suspended the councillors and set up a Kangaroo tribunal to hear their cases in what seems like a more formality as he planned to fire them altogether at the end. It is unlawful,” said Mandipa.
Kasukuwere, who claimed the mayor and the councillors indulged in corrupt activities at town house, has already fired two of them: Albert Chirau (Ward 1) and Moses Marecha (Ward 5). By-elections to fill their posts are slated for November 7.
But Mandipa said the decisions by Kasukuwere are all in violation of the constitution and it was highly likely that the High Court judge Nokhutula Moyo would reinstate them all.
“We are very confident of the outcome of the case against Kasukuwere. We derive our comfort from the fact that our argument is clearly supported by the new constitution. The mayor and the rest of the MDC-T councillors are innocent and so they should be allowed to continue serving the people who elected them at the 2013 elections,” he said.
The lawyer also pointed out the active role that Parliament should play in dealing with any allegations that may be levelled against elected councillors.
“Parliament, through the relevant portfolio committee, should be involved in the issue to do with charges against elected councillors. It should also conduct selection of an independent body to hear the cases where necessary. Kasukuwere by-passed Parliament …. and we hope the High Court will take note of that in reversing the illegal suspensions of innocent city fathers,” said Mandipa.