BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
JACOB Mafume yesterday told court that he was still Harare mayor.
This was after the State filed an application to have him stopped from entering Town House, saying he could interfere with witnesses in a case in which he is accused of criminal abuse of office. The witnesses are council workers.
He is already being accused of interfering with State witness, Edgar Dzehonye, who is a council worker.
Mafume through his lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara, said Dzehonye, whom the State claims was still at Town House, has since been sent on forced leave after he was arrested for fraud.
Mafume told magistrate Ngoni Nduna that he could not abandon his duties as a mayor when the High Court had not stopped him during the bail application.
“After being granted bail, I continued to practice as a legal practitioner and being mayor. I continued the duties of mayor up until I was arrested again and after that, I continued until the Minister of Local Government sent me on suspension,” Mafume said.
“I was also granted bail on the second charge. I was initially suspended sometime late December and before that suspension lapsed, it was renewed. The suspension was for 45 days. After the 45 days lapsed, the council was on lockdown I did my vaccination and then advised council through my legal practitioner that since my suspension has lapsed, I must get my correspondence as mayor and all obligatory rights.
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“The council responded to my letter saying it is not disputing my coming back, but as a matter of law, they will advise the Minister.”
Mafume said his duties were ceremonial and that he could not interfere with a person who is on forced leave. He said he had been reporting to work and has not interfered with any council witness.
The State, led by prosecutor Michael Reza, had told court that Dzehonye was a council worker and claimed that he was not on forced leave.
This was despite Chamber Secretary Allen Chiwawa, telling the court in a letter that the council had placed all executives with pending criminal cases on paid leave.
Reza, however, claimed the letter was fake.
Nduna then asked for the parties to submit written submissions.
The State is expected to make its submissions tomorrow, with the defence responding on Tuesday next week. A ruling will be made next Thursday.
Follow Desmond on Twitter @DChingarande1