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Legal Monitor - Issue 186
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
April 11
, 2013

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Unreasonable’ Chombo bites the dust again

The High Court has described the appointment of “Special Interest Councillors” in Bulawayo by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo a few months before the expiry of the council’s term as “unreasonable”. Justice Meshack Cheda delivered the blow to Hon. Chombo last week when he concurred with a resident who had dragged the minister to court over the appointments. Alick Gumede, a Pelandaba resident and an official of Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, took Hon. Chombo to court questioning the motive behind the appointments.

His lawyer, Job Sibanda of Job Sibanda and Associates, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, successfully argued that the appointments were not motivated by a desire to cater for special interest groups who ideally should benefit from such appointments. Justice Cheda agreed with Gumede that the appointments were “irrational”.

As a result, Gatsha Mazithulela and Siphiwe Ncube, who were appointed by Hon. Chombo in February, will not be allowed to participate in council proceedings as councillors. Justice Cheda ruled that it did not make sense for Hon. Chombo to appoint “Special Interest Councillors” at the last hour since they would not contribute much.

“No purpose will be served by these appointments. It is too late (to make the appointments),” ruled Justice Cheda, before tearing Hon. Chombo’s reasoning on the matter.

“The unreasonableness of the first respondent’s (Hon. Chombo) action raises questions from any person properly applying his mind to the matter. It is clear that the council’s term will come to an end before the appointees even understand the business of council and as such cannot be in a position to be of any benefit to the special group for which the appointments are made,” said Justice Cheda delivering the ruling. Councillors are already winding business as their term comes to an end in a few months. President Robert Mugabe has indicated that he will call for a general election on or before June 29. Gumede had argued that the appointment of the “Special Interest Councillors” would only serve to milk the broke city and would be a waste of ratepayers’ money as Mazithulela and Ncube would be paid allowances for doing nothing.

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