HARARE – Suspended Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni has approached the High Court again challenging Local Govenment minister Saviour Kasukuwere's decision to suspend him for the second time, within 24 hours of re-assuming duty.
The High Court initially gave an order, ruling that in terms of the law the minister was only empowered to suspend a mayor, but remove him from office through an independent tribunal that is supposed to look into the matter.
The matter, according to the law, was supposed to be heard within 45 days from his day of suspension.
However, Kasukuwere failed to set up the independent tribunal board, leading to Manyenyeni re-assuming duty.
Manyenyeni was, however, suspended within 24 hours of re-assuming duty, which prompted the current urgent High Court application.
The basis of his suspension is that he employed banker James Mushore as the town clerk without getting approval from the Local Government Board.
In his current High Court application in which he cited Kasukuwere and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents, Manyenyeni argued that his suspension is “unlawful, void and of no force or effect”.
“There is no scope under Section 114 (1) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) for a second suspension, whether on the same or different grounds, if the allegations founding the previous suspension were never determined by the independent tribunal contemplated under Section 278 of the Constitution,” Manyenyeni, who is represented by lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said.
He argued that Kasukuwere was not entitled to re-suspend him after the lapse of the first suspension.
“If a minister invokes Section 114, he or she must follow it through. If he or she does not, and is overtaken by operation of law, he or she cannot re-suspend as he has purported to do. If that was so, to me, would have a ridiculous scenario, where a mayor is suspended, returned by law, suspended again, returned by law again, suspended a further time and so on. This is not permitted by Section 278,” he said.
Manyenyeni now seeks an order nullifying his suspension for the second time.
“The letter of re-suspension of the applicant (Manyenyeni) from the 1st respondent (Kasukuwere) dated 6 June, 2016 be and is hereby suspended. The applicant be and is hereby allowed to continue to carry out council business and receive allowances in line with his post of mayor.
“The 1st respondent be and is . . . hereby ordered to refrain from suspending, dismissing or engaging in any other activity with a view to removing applicant from the office of Mayor of Harare,” reads part of Manyenyeni’s demand.