UNDER-SIEGE Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has threatened to appeal a High Court order compelling him to reinstate Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and ward 4 councillor Kenneth Sithole, fired early this year on allegations of criminal abuse of office.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE/STEPHEN CHADENGA
Kasukuwere on Tuesday said his office — after studying Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi’s judgment — had been preparing papers to file at the Supreme Court.
“We are going to appeal against that decision and the officials are working on it,” he said.
This came as Kombayi indicated yesterday that he was no longer interested in the mayor’s post.
Justice Mathonsi had ruled that the two MDC-T councillors had been unjustifiably fired and ordered their immediate reinstatement without loss of allowances and benefits.
The two were among the 15 Gweru councillors — 12 from MDC-T and three from Zanu PF — suspended in February this year for criminal abuse of office. Kasukuwere later reinstated 10 MDC-T and the three Zanu PF councillors, but fired Kombayi and Sithole following recommendations by an independent tribunal.
The two, through their lawyer Brian Dube, appealed the decision at the High Court in March, culminating in last week’s ruling delivered under case number HC 637/17.
“It is ordered that the decision of the first respondent [independent tribunal] be and is hereby set aside,” Justice Mathonsi ruled.
“The convictions of the applicants be and are hereby set aside and quashed. The first and second applicants [Kombayi and Sithole] respectively be and are hereby reinstated to their positions as councillors of the City of Gweru forthwith without any loss of allowances and benefits.”
Before their expulsion, the councillors were suspended in November 2015 before they won a High Court reprieve, which Kasukuwere defied and went on to appoint a three-member caretaker commission, led by Tsunga Mhangami, to run council affairs pending the findings of the tribunal.
Meanwhile, Kombayi bounced back at Gweru City Council on Tuesday where he attended his first full council meeting announcing he would not fight his MDC-T colleague, Charles Chikozho, for the mayor’s post.
Kombayi said he was content in serving people in his ward 1, adding that the position of mayor was longer of importance to him.
“The issue is not about whether I’m mayor or not, but to serve the City of Gweru,” Kombayi said after the meeting.
“We are going to work as a team of councillors for the progress of the city and I have no intention fight my colleague (Chikozho) who is the current mayor.”
The outspoken politician started firing shots when he demanded clarification on the $3 million budgeted for job evaluation, its implication on council and workers to be affected by the exercise.
Chikozho said he was happy that the city now had a full complement of 18 councillors representing all the wards.
“This is good news to us as all the wards will now be represented in terms of service delivery,” Chikozho said.
Chikozho said the draft for the council’s 2018-2022 strategic plan to revive operations at the local authority had now been adopted.