Harare High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore will today preside over a challenge filed by Chitungwiza and Harare residents, who have dragged government and respective local authorities to court over the appointment of commissions to run municipalities in the absence of elected councillors.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
In an urgent High Court application filed by Community Water Alliance Trust, Combined Harare Residents’ Association and Chitungwiza and Manyame Residents’ Association, the residents pressure groups want government to immediately swear in the elected councillors and disband the commissions, saying they were illegal.
The residents’ groups cited Local Government minister, Harare town clerk, Chitungwiza town clerk and the six commissioners for both councils.
In the application before the court, the residents want an order to be made that “the decision by the first respondent (Local Government minister) to appoint commissioners to preside over the Harare City Council and Chitungwiza Town Council contravenes section 277 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and, therefore, invalid.
Alternatively, the decision by the first respondent to appoint commissioners to preside over the Harare City Council and the Chitungwiza town council at the expense of elected councillors is ultra vires section 80 of the Urban Council’s Act and is, therefore, declared unlawful and hereby set aside”.
In the founding affidavit, Hildaberta Rwambiwa, representing Community Water Alliance, stated that the reasons for the appointment of the caretaker commissions were spurious and unsustainable at law.
“I am advised that this is purely based on a failure to properly understand and apply the law, in particular, the progressive Constitution of Zimbabwe section 277(3) of the Constitution which stipulates that; ‘except as otherwise provided in sub section (2) or an Act of parliament mayor, chairperson and councillors of local authorities assume office on the ninth day after the announcement of the results of the general elections in which the councillors were elected’,” part of the affidavit by Rwambiwa read.
The pressure groups stated that at law, all councillors ought to have assumed office as stated by the law.
“There is no reason why such oaths has not been taken yet unless the first respondent (Local Government ministry) has frustrated this process to pave way for him to appoint his blue-eyed people,” the court papers stated.
In Harare, the former Local Government minister July Moyo appointed Bella Manyakara as chair of the commission and assisted by Shingai Mutumbwa and one C Kampila.
In Chitungwiza, Joseph Macheka chairs the commission and is assisted by Irene Chakwizira and Zivanai Chisango, all who have been cited as respondents.