The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
BULAWAYO councillors seem to have thrown in the towel regarding the status of disposed deputy mayor, Mr Tinashe Kambarami after they appointed a caretaker councillor to take care of business in Ward Three.
Mr Kambarami lost his status as councillor and deputy mayor after High Court judge, Justice Thompson Mabhikwa ruled that his election was in violation of Section 119 (2) (e) of the Electoral Act following his conviction of theft.
Mr Kambarami went on to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court. However, after consultations the local authority’s lawyers, Coghlan and Welsh wrote to his lawyers, Samp Mlaudzi and Partners noting that the notice of appeal did not necessarily overturn the High Court’s declaratory order.
At one point, his party, MDC-Alliance tried to intervene in the matter, ordering the Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni to reinstate him, but that hit a snag with the Mayor noting that he had no power as the matter was now subjudice.
However, according to a council confidential report councillors have finally given in and set aside attempts to smuggle the embattled former deputy mayor through the backdoor by resolving that a caretaker councillor be appointed to oversee his ward until the matter has been concluded at the Supreme Court.
Councillors were also questioning what jurisdiction the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube had in writing to the former deputy mayor informing him of the withdrawal of his benefits. It was revealed that Mr Kambarami was only told that he was no longer entitled to any privileges as a deputy mayor and councillor from a council stores attendant when he had gone to get his weekly allocation of fuel.
“The town clerk advised that he was merely performing his duties as the chief executive officer of the organisation when he wrote the letter. This was the court order that had come to council. In this case he was only implementing a court order.
“On the issue of a caretaker councillor for Ward Three, the committee supported the idea of Clr Silas Chigora (Ward Four) to be requested and appointed to take care of issues relating to Ward Three until the conclusion of the case involving Kambarami,” reads part of the report.
In the ensuing debate councillors concurred that there was a need to appoint a caretaker councillor as development projects were now at a standstill.
“Clr Mlandu Ncube said these were legal matters and there was a need for councillors to be guided accordingly. He mentioned that this was not the first time councillors had been suspended. Council was not an appellant court. There was a need to consider the judgment that had an effect on the organisation. The Mayor, Clr Solomon Mguni explained that there were some projects that were ongoing in Ward Three and there was a need to find someone who would overlook those projects,” reads the report.
Mr Kambarami was in July last year convicted of theft by Bulawayo provincial magistrate, Ms Sharon Rosemani, under case number CRB 1981/18. He was fined $80 or 18 days in prison for stealing an extension cord from an electrician he had hired to work at his offices. Justice Mabhikwa said Kambarami’s failure to notify his party and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was in itself an act of dishonesty and an illegality, which rendered his subsequent election a nullity.