BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/ SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
THE opposition MDC has ordered Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni to re-instate his expelled deputy Tinashe Kambarami, despite a High Court ruling that the latter’s election was a nullity.
Kambarami has appealed to the Supreme Court against a ruling by High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa that his election was in violation of Section 119 (2)(e) of the Electoral Act.
Mabhikwa argued that Kambarami’s failure to notify the MDC and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of his previous conviction for stealing an electrical extension cable was an act of dishonesty and an illegality, rendering his election a nullity.
The ruling came after pressure group 1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement Trust approached the courts seeking the nullification of Kambarami’s election as ward 3 councillor and deputy mayor citing his conviction.
In a letter to the mayor dated October 14, MDC Bulawayo provincial secretary Ernest Rafamoyo however, said it was the party position that Kambarami be re-instated.
“After taking into consideration all the developments around the above matter … the position of the party, in consultation with the national leadership, is that councillor Kambarami remains the deputy mayor with the same conditions, privileges and benefits until the appeal is finalised by the Supreme Court. Please be guided accordingly,” Rafamoyo wrote.
Following advice from its lawyers Coghlan and Welsh, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) barred Kambarami from acting as a deputy mayor following Mabhikwa’s court ruling.
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Rafamoyo copied the letter to the party secretary-general Chalton Hwende, national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo, provincial chairperson James Sithole, secretary for local government Clifford Hlatshwayo and the chief whip Innocent Gonese.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mguni said he had no powers to defy the courts and re-instate Kambarami.
“What I can say is that I am still consulting with the national leadership as he was not suspended by me, but by the High Court. It is only a court of law that can reinstate him,” Mguni said.
“The BCC is a law-abiding council, just like the party. We believe in the rule of law, so I am still consulting the leadership on this letter which is in conflict with the founding values of the party on issues to do with the rule of law.”
Kambarami’s lawyers, Samp Mlaudzi and Partners argued that the former deputy mayor could not be stopped from attending to council business after he appealed Mabhikwa’s High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.
In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Kambarami argues that the 1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement Trust had no locus standi to challenge him since the organisation has no legal capacity of suing or being sued.
Bulawayo provincial secretary for local government Alderman Amen Mpofu, did not have kind words for Rafamoyo.
“I am shocked by this, why does Rafamoyo want to cause confusion within the council? We already know that Kambarami’s matter is being dealt with by the courts, why can’t we be patient and let the law take its course?” Mpofu said.
“These are very young boys and they are new in the political game. Why do they want to make the mayor look bad in the eyes of the people? Mguni did not fire Kambarami and he does not have the capacity to do that. Rafamoyo is exposing the power hungriness of Kambarami; he is a young man, he still has a life.”
Mpofu said in his capacity as the provincial chairperson for local government he has not taken the issue lying down. “Well I am not going to be mum about this. I am the provincial chairman for local government and I will make sure that this issue is dealt with accordingly,” Mpofu said.