Mutare ex-chamber secretary demands lawyer’s recusal



FORMER Mutare City Council chamber secretary Cephas Vhuta has demanded that the local authority’s lawyer Johannes Zviuya must recuse himself in a matter in which he is being tried for misconduct, claiming the lawyer was an interested party.

In a letter dated January 25 2021, addressed to the executive secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), Vhuta said Zviuya should have recused himself as he was conflicted.

Vhuta was suspended last year after clashing with the late town clerk Joshua Maligwa over misconduct, before eventually resigning.

“I refer to the above matter and hereby refer to your esteemed office a complainant against a legal practitioner namely Mr Johannes Zviuya of Bere Brothers Legal Practitioners. The complaint relates to his conduct as lawyer of Mutare City Council where I was employed as chamber secretary from April 2017 to August 31, 2021,” the letter read.

“I had differences with the late town clerk Joshua Maligwa relating mainly to management style and corporate governance matters. The late also had his own personal agenda against me due to perceptions he had
about me.

“Sometime in 2018, I approached Mr Bere of Bere Brothers to mediate between myself and the late town clerk, but he flatly refused. I did not know then that he had formed a personal relationship or friendship with the town clerk and that they now had an agenda against me,” Vhuta said.

He said in 2018 he advised council against signing a legal service contract which had been presented by Bere as it was heavily skewed in the lawyer’s favour.

Vhuta’s disciplinary hearing was held between May 27 and 29, 2020 at Mutare Civic Centre and Zviuya was the prosecutor.

“As chamber secretary of Mutare City Council, I was obviously in charge of the legal portfolio and the respondents handled the bulk of council matters.”

He said there was conflict of interest as he could not be prosecuted in a disciplinary matter by a partner from a law firm, which he was dealing with almost on a daily basis.

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