GWERU residents are demanding that the Ministry of Local Government should meet legal costs incurred by former town clerk, Daniel Matawu, as well as pay his dues following a High Court order to reinstate him after he was fired in July 2016 on charges of incompetence and negligence.
By Stephen Chadenga
A fortnight ago, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ordered Matawu’s reinstatement, saying the tribunal which handled the matter was illegally constituted.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (GRRA) secretary, Cleophas Matongo, said the commission appointed by former Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, erred in recommending Matawu’s dismissal, hence ratepayers could not be “punished” by paying the former council chief executive’s perks.
“In his judgment Justice Mathonsi clearly indicated glaring mistakes in the manner the whole Matawu matter was handled by former minister Kasukuwere,” Matongo said in a letter addressed to Local government minister July Moyo and copied to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Midlands resident minister, provincial administrator and Gweru mayor, dated March 29.
“It is shocking and scary that a minister [Kasukuwere] decided to work outside the confines of the law and the commission purported to have fired him with referring to the law. As residents our position is that the outcome of the judgment costs on Matawu should be paid by the Local Government ministry.”
According to sources at Town House, Matawu, who is reportedly not eager to resume his duties, is owed nearly $1 million in loss of salary and benefits as well as legal costs he incurred in challenging his dismissal.
But Matongo said ratepayers could not shoulder the costs as that would compromise service delivery.
He also said residents wanted council to deal with “illegal appointments” of heads of departments done by the former commission as well as reimbursement of all allowances paid to the former commissioners after their term of office had expired.
Council spokesperson Manford Gambiza could not be reached for comment, but the local authority’s lawyers recently indicated that council could either reinstate Matawu or terminate his contract through mutual consent, although the latter option bears heavy financial implications.
Matawu was found guilty on 15 counts of gross incompetence and neglecting his duties before his subsequent dismissal by a three-member commission which was appointed by Kasukuwere.
But through his lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika, Matawu won an order to nullify his suspension and dismissal, arguing that the decision was unlawful.
In his court challenge, Matawu cited Kasukuwere, Gweru City Council’s former commissioners Tsunga Mhangami, Chamunorwa Parenyi and Mark Choga, as respondents.