THE High Court has ordered the reinstatement of former Gweru mayor, Hamutendi Kombayi and ward 4 councillor, Kenneth Sithole, fired early this year by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere for alleged criminal abuse of office.
BY Stephen Chadenga
It, however, remains to be seen if current mayor Charles Chikozho, also from the MDC-T, will step down for Kombayi.
Chikozho assumed the city’s mayorship in March shortly after Kombayi was shown the exit.
In a judgment delivered on Tuesday, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi said the two MDC-T councillors had been fired unjustifiably and ordered their immediate reinstatement without loss of allowances and benefits.
He also ordered the government to pay legal costs of the application.
The two were among the 15 Gweru councillors suspended in February this year on criminal abuse of office charges. They comprised of 12 from the opposition MDC-T and three from the ruling Zanu PF party. Kasukuwere later reinstated 10 MDC-T councillors and all the three Zanu PF councillors, as he 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 this week’s ruling delivered under case number HC 637/17.
“It is ordered that the decision of the first respondent (independent tribunal) be and hereby is set aside,” ruled Justice Mathonsi.
“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 re-instated to their positions as councillors of the City of Gweru forthwith, without any loss of allowances and benefits.”
Kombayi yesterday said he would resume his duties soon after council has been served with the court papers.
“This was clearly political persecution and we wait for proper procedures for respondents to be served with the papers before assuming duties as councillors,” he said.
Before their expulsion, the councillors had been suspension 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.