Court reinstates Manyenyeni, Anti Corruption Commission arrests mayor
By Andrew Kunambura & Idah Mhetu
THE High Court has ruled against Local Government and National Housing Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere’s suspension of Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, over his alleged refusal to comply with a directive for an audit of Harare City Council-owned businesses.
Manyenyeni was suspended following the expiry of another suspension by Kasukuwere over the appointment of James Mushore as the city’s town clerk. Although Manyenyeni had approached the High Court challenging his earlier suspension, Justice Mary Dube had dismissed the case, ruling that Kasukuwere had the power to suspend the mayor although a tribunal needed to be put in place to deal with the suspension.
Manyenyeni was however reinstated after the expiry of the 40-day window within which the minister should have set up the tribunal and tried the suspended mayor. However, he was again suspended over the new charge of refusing to comply with a directive to institute an audit of council-owned businesses.
Manyenyeni then went back to the High Court for recourse, resulting in the latest judgement.
But soon after the judgement, Manyenyeni was dramatically taken in for questioning by members of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), who were waiting outside the High Court.
High Court Judge, Justice Lavender Makoni, reversed Manyenyeni’s suspension and ordered Kasukuwere to pay costs of the lawsuit before interdicting him from suspending Manyenyeni again.
Makoni also ruled that Manyenyeni should be allowed to do his duties as Harare mayor and Mt Pleasant councillor without interference.
She also ruled that Manyenyeni was entitled to his mayoral allowances dating back to April when he was first suspended over the appointment of Mushore.
In her ruling on June 29, 2016, Makoni said Kasukuwere had no right to suspend the mayor until the finalisation of a Supreme Court appeal. The appeal was on the judgement given by Dube.
“The letter of suspending the applicant is hereby set aside until the Supreme Court determines the first matter. As such, the applicant is hereby free to perform his duties as mayor and councillor and entitled to his allowances. The first responded is interdicted from suspending the applicant again until finalisation of the Supreme Court appeal. The first respondent will also bear costs of the lawsuit,” said Makoni in her ruling.
Addressing journalists outside High Court moments before he was whisked away by the ACC, Manyenyeni’s lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, said the ruling as victory for Constitutionalism.
“The mayor appealed to the Supreme Court, as you are aware, after the first judge had held that the minister had powers under section 114 of the Urban Councils Act notwithstanding the position of the Constitution which did not allow the minister to suspend the mayor. The Supreme Court is still going to determine that matter. So until that is determined the minister cannot re-suspend or do anything to the mayor,” Madhuku said.
“So basically the effect of this judgment is that Manyenyeni is now back at work and will not be re-suspended until the Supreme Court determines the matter. It also means that the minister cannot create new ground because this second application we made to the court was based on the minister purportedly acting in terms of new grounds that has also been thrown out of the window by the judge, and she is actually basically restoring the rule of law.
“This is a matter of law; we are debating the powers of the minister. There is a Constitution in place and there is an Act which was there before the Constitution. The courts are dealing with the matter and until that has happened, we have had a decision this must not happen,” he added.
Manyenyeni confirmed that he was being held by the ACC yesterday afternoon.
“I have just been whisked away by the anti-corruption team. Facing new charges, still waiting to be told but it’s about town clerk recruitment. Not really sure yet,” he said through SMS.
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