GWERU – Local mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and 10 MDC-T councillors have won a High court case in which they were challenging their suspensions by Local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere. Judgement on the case was reserved last week by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo after she noted that she “needed more time to produce a detailed account of the ruling.”

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Hamutendi Kombayi

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\r\nHowever, in the ruling that has since been communicated to Kombayi’s legal team comprising of lawyers from Dube and Gundu Legal practitioners and Chitere and Chidawanyika partners, the suspensions have been rendered unlawful.\r\n\r\nThe mayor, his deputy Artwell Matyorauta and all the 13 MDC-T councillors were suspended by Kasukuwere on 13 August this year. He accused them of gross misconduct, incompetence and mismanagement of council funds and affairs.\r\n\r\nHowever, Justice Moyo concurred with Kombayi’s legal team that Kasukuwere had misdirected himself in that he had used powers from the Urban Councils Act that have since been scrapped from him by the new constitution.\r\n\r\n“In summary, section 114 of the Urban Councils Act vests all powers to suspend and dismiss councillors, in the Minister of Local Government who is the first respondent. However, section 278 of the Constitution on the other hand gives an impression that the Constitution has taken away the powers that the Minister had in terms of section 114 of the Urban Councils Act and vested the same in an independent tribunal which should be established through an Act of Parliament,” she said.\r\nThe judge pointed out that the new constitution’s provisions therefore overtake all the conflicting sections in the old constitution.\r\n\r\n“The Constitution thus speaks for itself, any act or practice which is inconsistent with its provisions is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency. It stipulates that the obligation imposed by it are binding on everyone and must be fulfilled by all including the first respondent as Minister of Local Government.\r\n\r\n“It (new constitution) doesn’t vest any authority to remove councillors in the Minister anymore, neither does it grant the Minister powers to establish or constitute an independent tribunal. I accordingly grant the provisional order as sought,” ruled the judge.\r\n\r\nBesides Kasukuwere, Midlands’ provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo had been cited as respondents together with members of a commission running the affairs of the city after suspension of all the city fathers- Luckson Chikumbirike, Goodwill Khosa and Nicholas Moyo.