Chitungwiza mayor Lovemore Maiko and five councillors from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have been acquitted after being arrested for convening an illegal council meeting.
Former Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo suspended the six former CCC councillors in October last year for illegally convening an election meeting to elect a mayor for the dormitory town.
Maiko was arrested together with former deputy mayor Musa Makweza (ward 19), ex-CCC council chief whip Richard Chamutsa (ward 5), Peter Matiringe (ward 10) Kuda John (ward 21) and former ward 14 councillor Chengetai Nyagondo.
Maiko was accused of accepting to be reinstated as mayor during the “illegal” electoral meeting.
This was after he was recalled by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum lawyer Noble Chinhanhu, who represented the councillors, yesterday told NewsDay that they raised concerns that some of the tribunal participants were Zanu PF members.
“In this circumstance, the six councillors felt the then acting mayor Mr Kiven Mutimbanyoka was frustrating every process for the election of a substantive mayor and had done so since April 2022 until the recently-held harmonised elections.
“On October 7, Mr Mutimbanyoka walked out of a meeting when an election was called purporting to have adjourned it, but procedurally.
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“Over 20 councillors ignored the procedural adjournment and went on to hold an election.
“The Urban Councils Act makes it clear that councillors are supposed to enjoy immunity from prosecution or any claim arising from circumstances where they are pursuing their duty as councillors,” Chinhanhu said.
He added that his clients felt victimised since more councillors were involved in the elections.
According to Chinhanhu, the court dismissed the case after the State failed to produce evidence against the CCC councillors.
“The court reached a correct decision in acquitting the six accused persons on the close of the State case as there was no evidence at all proving they did anything wrong,” he said.