HARARE – Suspended Chitungwiza mayor Philip Mutoti has dragged Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere to the High Court in a bid to set aside the minister’s decision to set up an independent tribunal to probe him on graft charges.
This comes after Kasukuwere suspended all 26 councillors on allegations of mismanagement and corruption and installed a caretaker commission headed by Madzudzo Pawadyira.
Mutoti, who was expelled together with the rest of the councillors, is seeking a review of Kasukuwere’s actions arguing that an independent tribunal can only be instituted where necessary.
“In terms of Section 68 (1) of the Constitution, every person has a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, and impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair,” Mutoti said in an affidavit.
The suspended mayor, who is represented by Marufu Mandevere, said that in terms of the Urban Councils Act, Kasukuwere must “cause a thorough investigation where necessary to be conducted with reasonable dispatch to determine whether sufficient evidence exists for the issue of my removal to be referred to an independent tribunal.”
Mutoti and the other councillors also argue that the minister used an unsanctioned audit report to nail them.
In his High Court application, Mutoti said that the explanation that he gave to Kasukuwere was more than satisfactory.
“The respondent arbitrarily exercised his discretion by just ignoring my explanation and referring the matter to an independent tribunal…The decision by the minister was outrageous in its defiance of logic,” he said.
He said Kasukuwere must not have relied on a discredited audit report to suspend him.
Mutoti denied the corruption and mismanagement allegations levelled against him, claiming he acted above board in the exercise of his duty.
Kasukuwere is still to respond to the application.
Pursuant to the court application, the tribunal had written a letter to Mutoti asking him to file a written response to the allegations that he is facing.
Kasukuwere, on the other hand, asked Mutoti to present any of the concerns that he has to the independent tribunal, adding that he will remain on suspension until a determination has been made.
Mutoti was also asked to remove his property from the mayoral office in a development that his lawyers have contested through a letter to the Chitungwiza town clerk.
“This request is quite bizarre and surprising. Our client is still the mayor for Chitungwiza Municipality.
“There is no basis whatsoever for him to remove any of his belongings from his office,” Mutoti’s lawyers said, adding that their client has not yet been dismissed but is only on suspension.