BY MOSES MATENGA
SUSPENDED Harare mayor Jacob Mafume and his deputy Luckson Mukunguma on Monday said they would challenge their “illegal” suspension by government.
The two were suspended last week through a letter signed by acting Information and Publicity minister Jenfan Muswere over a litany of allegations.
The allegations included the illegal parcelling out of council land.
Mafume and Mukunguma, who are facing criminal abuse of office charges, are out on bail.
Mukunguma yesterday vowed that his suspension was null and void, adding that he was likely to be back in office upon “signal” from his political masters.
In a letter from his lawyers Chatsanga and Partners, Mukunguma said: “Accordingly, we advise that your re-suspension letter is a nullity and void, as it does not conform to the relevant laws. It, therefore, does not have any legal effect.
“Consequently, it is as if there is no suspension. Our client cannot be expected to observe and comply with an unlawful order. He will, therefore, attend his duties as councillor and deputy mayor as before,” the letter, dated January 28, 2021, read in part.
“Should you frustrate our client by interdicting him from performing his duties on the basis of the re-suspension letter, we have instructions to approach the courts for an appropriate remedy at your cost.”
The lawyers described the suspension as “fatally defective” as it was a re-suspension after he had been suspended earlier on in December.
“All allegations laid down in his letter are all council resolutions and I wonder why he can pick an individual councillor out of 46 councillors. The decision was done at committee level and it is full council that recommended that,” Mukunguma told NewsDay yesterday.
On Monday, Mafume said his legal team would also make a similar move.
“We are responding formally today, but my response now is to say my lawyers are attending to it. The minister never spoke to me about it before he wrote the letter and we have no clue as to where it is coming from, and I have never appeared before any committee that made those allegations,” Mafume said.
“It is common courtesy before suspending someone to get into contact with them and give them time to respond.”
In a letter dated January 22, Muswere suspended the two and another councillor, Anthony Shingadeya based on findings of an investigation team which produced a preliminary report dated December 14, 2020.
Harare is faced with a crisis of leadership that has seen the local authority operating without a town clerk, mayor and several other directors who are in the dock on graft charges.
Follow Moses on Twitter @mmatenga