High court puts brakes on Chombo juggernaut

HIGH Court Judge Justice Andrew Mutema has put the brakes on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Ignatius Chombo’s shenanigan after he upheld an urgent chamber application filed by suspended Mutare Mayor Brian James seeking to stop disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the Minister.

Ignatius Chombo
Ignatius Chombo

James’ lawyers lodged an urgent chamber application on Thursday 24 May 2012 to interdict Chombo and his three member board of enquiry, chaired by one Machingauta from convening hearings and make findings before the finalisation of another High Court case in which James is challenging his suspension from executing duties as Mayor of the eastern border city by the Local Government Minister.

On Tuesday 29 May 2012, Justice Mutema granted the final order sought by James’ lawyers which declared as “unlawful and of no consequence” the disciplinary hearing or inquiry into allegations of misconduct leveled against the Movement for Democratic Change Mayor.

This was after the State represented by RutendoManimanzi consented to arguments advanced by James’s lawyers that it had no plausible defence at law to oppose the application.

James was represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member lawyer Alec Muchadehama, DzimbabweChimbga and Jeremiah Bamu of ZLHR.

Last week, the Mayor’s lawyers walked out of the hearing on the basis that the hearing was sub-judice and unprocedural. The lawyers argued that they could not be party to the proceedings since the matter was already before the High Court, where James has lodged an appeal. Chombo suspended James in January 2012 citing allegations of misconduct.

Critics accuse Chombo of undermining the will of the people and waging an onslaught on local government democracy through politically motivated suspensions of democratically elected councillors and mayors as well as partisan appointments.

Several Mayors and councilors from Chinhoyi, Bindura, Harare, Mutare, Rusape and Gwanda in control of MDC-T or MDC-run councils have been fired or suspended by Chombo on flimsy allegations of misconduct and maladministration.

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