BY MOSES MATENGA/DESMOND CHINGARANDE
LOCAL GOVERNMENT minister July Moyo yesterday appointed Stewart Mutizwa acting Harare mayor despite a court ruling on the same day that blocked the State from stopping incumbent mayor Jacob Mafume (MDC Alliance) from resuming duty.
Observers said the move by Moyo had exposed the nefarious ties between the ruling Zanu PF party and the MDC-T which are exacerbating the chaos at Town House as Mutizwa is linked to the Douglas Mwonzora-led party, while Mafume is an MDC Alliance councillor.
Moyo last year suspended Mafume arguing that he was facing a criminal case before the courts, but the MDC Alliance deputy secretary for local government (Mafume) returned to work last month, on the basis that his suspension had lapsed.
Mutizwa has been acting mayor in the absence of Mafume, and a special council meeting called on Monday to elect a new acting mayor failed to constitute a quorum.
“I have taken note of the contents of the letter dated September 24, 2021 in which a certificate on the declaration of vacancy in the office of the mayor for City of Harare was issued by the acting town clerk,” Moyo’s letter, dated September 29, 2021, read in part.
He accused the council of neglect for failing to appoint an acting mayor since September 14. Since then, the local authority has been on auto pilot.
“In terms of section 104(2) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15), I hereby appoint SM Mtizwa ward 9 Greendale councillor as the acting mayor for the City of Harare with immediate effect,” Moyo said.
His letter came as a Harare magistrate yesterday dismissed an application by prosecutor Michael Reza to stop Mafume from resuming his duties.
Magistrate Ngoni Nduna said it was incompetent for the court to grant the State’s application since they were not bringing up new facts.
“The accused was arrested for obstructing the course of justice and was admitted to bail with the same grounds that the State had brought up for the application. New grounds are not raised in the State’s application, therefore, it needs modification and the court cannot grant that application, it is dangerous to the law,” the magistrate ruled.
He said the court had no jurisdiction to amend bail conditions for Mafume.
Reza said if Mafume continued to go to work, he could put pressure on the witnesses who are council workers.
But through his lawyer Tabani Mpofu, Mafume challenged the State saying he was summoned to appear in court, but no facts were stated as to what he was needed for.
“The accused was summoned to appear in court today. In view of the summons, we do not know why he is in court. We indicated that we are here because it’s a court of law, but we were not aware why we were here,” Mpofu said during the application.
Mafume is being accused of obstructing the course of justice or alternatively, contempt of court for allegedly interfering with a key witness, Edgar Dzehonye, in another matter where he is facing criminal abuse of office charges.
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