Mutare residents have hailed a recent High Court order barring Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to force suspended mayor Brian James to attend disciplinary hearings.
This follows a High Court ruling last week interdicting Chombo and his three-member board of inquiry from conducting disciplinary hearings against James until the matter is finalised at the High Court.
High Court judge Justice Andrew Mutema made the ruling.
Combined Mutare Residents and Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Desmond Mwedzi described the ruling as a milestone in clipping Chombo’s wings.
“We are celebrating the ruling by the High Court interdicting minister Chombo from instituting his disciplinary hearing against mayor James,” Mwedzi said.
“This is the beginning of a new era where the minister has to be stopped from his unwarranted interference in the local authorities targeting elected MDC mayors.
Since the suspension of Brian James we have witnessed rampant corruption, late payment of council workers and poor service delivery in Mutare. We still demand transparency,” he said.
James was suspended in January following a fall-out with fellow councillors and management on the crafting of the 2012 budget and audit of council finances.
He is facing 16 counts of misconduct and insubordination.
James’ lawyers Alec Muchadehama, Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Jeremiah Bamu lodged an urgent chamber application to stop the disciplinary hearings, arguing doing so would be sub-judicial.
Some of the charges include James’ refusal to recruit 180 contract grass cutters in December last year.
He accused fellow councillors and council officials of corruption during an address at a public meeting.
James is also being accused of promising bonus payments to council workers without approval and failing to attend crucial council meetings.
He is alleged to have demanded benefits equivalent to full-time employees without the consent of his fellow councillors.
Council accused James of refusing to authorise council’s bid to borrow $1,7 million from the Development Bank of Zimbabwe although the deal had received council approval.