Chitungwiza Mayor sues Chombo

HARARE - The High Court last week heard the case in which the suspended Mayor of Chitungwiza Mayor, Misheck Shoko, argued that his removal by the local government Minister was unconstitutional. Shoko is the third elected opposition Mayor to be removed from office by local government Minister Ignatiu

s Chombo. The Minister accused the Mayor of misconduct and maladministration and alleges this has allowed a steep decline in the delivery of council services in Chitungwiza. Shoko is seeking an order from the court that Section 52, subsection 2 of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29 which the Minister used in dismissing him was clearly ‘ultra vires’ the constitution. He wants the Minister to pay the cost of the application. Shoko argued before the court that the due process of the law had not been exhausted in suspending him. The principles of natural justice were never applied and he never had the opportunity to appeal to the Minister. He also challenged the constitutionality of the suspension itself. Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme got hold of a provisional order from clerks at the High Court in which the suspension of Shoko was lifted. What is not clear however is whether this was meant to have been made public. The order declares that the powers under the Urban Councils Act which the Minister used to dismiss Shoko were clearly unconstitutional and that he meet the cost of the Mayor’s application as sought in the case. The dormitory city of Chitungwiza just outside Harare is plagued by water and power cuts, burst sewage pipes and uncollected garbage. The problems are blamed on government interference in the operations of urban councils. Government has been sabotaging the operations of city councils nationwide by removing elected officials, denying them any necessary rate increases and refusing to pay up money they owe the councils. The Mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri and his Mutare counterpart Misheck Kagurabadza were also removed from office by the local government Minister amidst similar charges of corruption and maladministration. Observers accuse Zanu (PF) of failing to penetrate the urban areas during elections and seeking to appoint its own officials via the backdoor of unconstitutional dismissals. – Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa

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