Judge Puts Brakes On Chombo's Purge
By Professor Matodzi Harare, July 03, 2012 - A Zimbabwean judge has put the brakes on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Ignatius Chombo’s spirited efforts to decimate Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-run councils after he upheld an urgent chamber application filed by suspended Chinhoyi Mayor Claudius Nyamhondoro and councilor Owen Charuza.
Nyamhondoro’s lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Tawanda Zhuwarara lodged an urgent chamber application last seeking to interdict Chombo and his three member board of enquiry, chaired by one Mutevedzi from convening hearings and make findings before the finalisation of another High Court case in which Nyamhondoro is challenging his suspension from executing duties as Mayor of Chinhoyi by the Local Government Minister.
High Court Judge Justice Happias Zhou recently granted the final order sought by Nyamhondoro’s lawyers suspending the disciplinary hearing or inquiry into allegations of misconduct levelled against the Movement for Democratic Change Mayor. Nyamhondoro and Charuza are each being charged with three counts of misconduct, which they deny.
“The respondents shall forthwith suspend the enquiry which was commenced against the applicants on 20 June 2012,” reads part of the order granted by Justice Zhou.
The suspension of the disciplinary by the High Court is the second major setback that Chombo has encountered inside one month after Justice Andrew Mutema interdicted him from proceeding with an enquiry against Mutare Mayor Brian James who was charged with 16 counts of misconduct. Chombo suspended James in January 2012 citing allegations of misconduct.
Critics accuse Chombo of undermining the will of the people and waging an onslaught on local government democracy through politically motivated suspensions of democratically elected councillors and mayors as well as partisan appointments.
Several Mayors and councillors from Chinhoyi, Bindura, Harare, Mutare, Rusape and Gwanda in control of MDC-T or MDC-run councils have been fired or suspended by Chombo on flimsy allegations of misconduct and maladministration.