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Recalled opposition Harare Mayor, Councillors lose court battle

BY NYASHA CHUMA, Harare

A DESPERATE bid by former Harare Mayor, Herbert Gomba and five other Harare City councillors to be reinstated into Harare City Council hit a brick wall this week after the High Court threw out their urgent chamber application with costs.

The axed councillors had sought an order against their expulsion by the Douglas Mwonzora led opposition movement, arguing they could only be removed from office upon the set-up of an independent tribunal established through an Act of Parliament.

In a founding affidavit deposed by Gomba, the axed city father said the aggrieved former councillors were also seeking to prove that Statutory Instrument 29 of the Constitution does not allow the recalling of a mayor, chairman, or councillors on the basis of changing political affiliation.

The five councillors that sought nullification of their dismissals are Hammy Madzingira, Kudzai Kadzombe, Gaudencia Marera, Happymore Gotora and Costa Mande.

The councillors averred that on or about 20 August 2020 they learnt through social media of a notification made by Mwonzora’s MDC-T to the Local Government minister, a notification to the effect that their membership had been terminated.

This came amid MDC Alliance ructions which escalated after the Supreme Court’s judgment upheld a High Court ruling that nullified Nelson Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the country’s biggest opposition party.

Justice Tawanda Matapi this week ruled that the axed councillors’ case “is not one which has justifiable legal grounds to constitute which if proceeded with no trial would likely succeed. The applicants’ case is devoid of merit. I will need to consider the issue of costs.”

In their application, Gomba said on August 14, 2020, the MDC-T wrote to the City of Harare declaring that he and other councillors were no longer MDC-T members and their membership had been terminated.

The former mayor said they only learnt of their dismissals through social media as they were not served with any letters, which is an anomaly in the interpretation of section 129 and 278 of the Constitution.

To date at least 39 MDC Alliance MPs and 81 local council elected officials have been recalled since a March 2020 Supreme Court ruling that Chamisa was an illegitimate leader of the MDC.

The vacancies in parliament and council remain unoccupied as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said by-elections are still suspended although voter registration has resumed.