Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has been given a week to reinstate two Gweru councillors he fired last week or face litigation.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s Public Interest Unit last week wrote to Kasukuwere accusing him of using an obsolete law to fire the councillors who were elected in terms of Section 277 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in 2013.
“You allegedly dismissed them (Albert Chirau and Moses Marecha) in terms of Section 114 (4) of the Urban Councils Act (29:15). We wish to advise that such dismissal is illegal and unconstitutional,” the lobby group said in the letter dated August 21.
Taken from Newsday
The letter added that the office of a councillor was now constitutionally guaranteed in Section 278 of the Constitution and “is crystal clear on the tenure and dismissal of a councillor from office”.
“There are set procedures on the dismissal of a councillor, which procedures you have blatantly ignored. In terms of Section 278 (2) of the Constitution, a councillor can only be removed from office after being tried by an independent tribunal.
“As shown by the letters of suspension issued on May 21, 2015, you appointed an investigation team, a team which is not an independent tribunal, that looked into the purported misconducts of our clients and basing on the team’s findings, you subsequently dismissed our clients on the 29th of July 2015,” the lobby group said.
It said the law Kasukuwere relied on was not consistent with Section 2 (1) of the Constitution.
“Clearly, your conduct of appointing a team to investigate the alleged misconducts of our clients and their subsequent dismissal is ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority) the provisions of Section 278 of the Constitution, hence the conduct and the dismissal is invalid and illegal,” the forum said.
NewsDay was reliably informed that human rights lawyer Tafadzwa Christmas is leading a group of legal practitioners ready to approach the Constitutional Court with an application against Kasukuwere.
However, Kasukuwere seemed unmoved by the threats.
“They should go to court. The courts are not in newspapers. They think they can write to me and threaten me. I have made my decision and I am sticking to it,” Kasukuwere said.
Kasukuwere, according to the rights body, in arriving at his decision relied on Section 114 of the Urban Councils Act “which in our view is ultra vires the Constitution”, therefore, the dismissal is illegal since it fails to comply in any way with the provisions of the Constitution.
“We, therefore, demand that you reinstate our clients to their positions prior to their suspension without loss of any benefits within seven working days from the date of receipt of this letter failure of which we will institute legal proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction without any further notice to you,” the letter said.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum also wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) registering its displeasure with Kasukuwere and his predecessor, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo’s conduct relating to the suspensions and subsequent dismissals.
Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said she was yet to receive the letter.
“I am not aware of the letter, but once we have it, I will be able to officially respond. Please check with me tomorrow (today),” Justice Makarau said.