Court nullifies Kambarami’s election

BY SILAS NKALA

BULAWAYO High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa has nullified the election of Bulawayo deputy mayor, Tinashe Kambarami, as councillor for ward 3 in Bulawayo on the basis of a criminal record he carries following his conviction of theft in July last year.

Kambarami was convicted by Bulawayo provincial magistrate Sharon Rosemani under case number CRB 1981/18 and fined $80 for stealing an extension cord from an electrician he had hired to work at his offices.

The 1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement Trust filed an application seeking an order nullifying Kambarami’s election as a councillor.

Mthwakazi’s lawyer, Godfrey Nyoni, yesterday confirmed the development: “Kambarami’s election as a councillor has been nullified. It was obvious. You can close your mouth and nose and go under the water, but for how long?”

Nyoni, however, said he was yet to get a copy of the written judgment on the matter.

Mthwakazi had cited Kambarami, the Bulawayo City Council, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and MDC as respondents in the application.

It sought the declaration of Kambarami’s nomination and subsequent election as councillor for Ward 3 in Bulawayo as null and void.

In her founding affidavit, Dorothy Ndlovu, the applicant’s secretary, said the application was premised on the provisions of the Electoral Act, which disqualify a convicted person from being nominated as a candidate for council elections.

“It has come to our attention as an organisation that the first respondent (Clr Kambarami) has a criminal record and should not have submitted his nomination papers to Zec. He was charged and convicted of theft on July 27, 2018 under case number CRB1981/18,”
she said.

Ndlovu said as an organisation, they could not sit back and watch an illegality being perpetuated.

Nyoni said in terms of section 119 (2) (e) of the Electoral Act, Kambarami, by virtue of his conviction, was supposed to be disqualified from contesting the elections.

According to section 119(2)(e) of the Electoral Act, a person shall be disqualified from being nominated as a candidate for or from election as a councillor if he or she was once convicted of an offence involving dishonesty.

Nyoni said Kambarami failed to disclose his criminal record to Zec prior to his nomination in the run-up to the July 30 harmonised elections.

“The first respondent is disqualified by operation of the law and the principle of legality is that his occupation of the office of deputy mayor and councillor should be declared null and void. The applicant (1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement Trust)
represents citizens of this country, who have a direct interest in this matter since it is in the interest of the public and their constitutional right,” Nyoni said.

He said Kambarami was given a chance to voluntarily relinquish his posts as councillor and deputy mayor, but he had declined.

Kambarami’s lawyers, Messrs Dickson Moyo and Maqhawe Ndlovu, however, said the High Court had no locus standi to handle the matter, arguing that the application was an election petition.

“Our submission is that this is an election petition, which is supposed to be heard by the Electoral Court as defined in terms of the Electoral Act and it is nowhere near a court application for declaratur. The Electoral Court, which existed through the
General Notices, expired on December 31, 2018 and extending its tenure through this court would be improper,” Kambarami’s lawyers said.

They further argued that there has to be a tribunal that has to be set in terms of section 174 of the Constitution to handle the disqualification of Kambarami.

On August 1, 2017, Kambarami engaged the complainant, Washington Chirikuudzi (68), to do some manual work at his business offices. He asked the complainant to leave his tools before knocking off.

When the complainant returned the following morning, he discovered that his extension cord was missing and Kambarami admitted that he took it and promised to return it, but failed to do so.

Chirikuudzi reported the matter to the police, leading to the deputy mayor’s arrest.

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