HomePoliticsHarare residents sue govt

Harare residents sue govt

Augustine Mukaro

THE Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is taking government to court over its failure to organise a mayoral election in Harare.

Helvetica, sans-serif”>In the same vein, CHRA is also seeking to interdict acting Harare mayor Sekesai Makwavarara from performing council duties pending the holding of an election.

“Pending the holding of such election and assumption of office by an elected executive mayor, Makwavarara should not be entitled to assume the functions of an executive mayor,” CHRA said in its court application.

The group also wants to bar Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo from interfering with the conduct of the election.

“Chombo should be interdicted and prohibited from interfering in any manner whatsoever with the conduct of the elections for the executive mayor of Harare,” it said.

In its High Court application lodged in August, CHRA said government should urgently call for the mayoral election in Harare because the law says that a poll should be held two months after the dismissal of an incumbent.

Harare’s first popularly elected executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri (MDC), was dismissed by Chombo in April for alleged indiscipline and incompetence, meaning an election should have been held in July.

Court documents in the hands of the Zimbabwe Independent show that CHRA wants the registrar-general’s office to avail the voters’ roll for the city for public inspection within 60 days from the day of obtaining the order sought.

The application cites the registrar-general as the first respondent, Chombo as the second, Makwavarara as the third, and Patrick Chinamasa as the fourth.

CHRA said the authorities failed to uphold their statutory duty to organise an election on time.

“The registrar-general has failed in his statutory duty,” reads part of the affidavit.

“Once the office of the executive mayor became vacant, it became obligatory on the registrar-general to ensure that an election is held not later than 60 days after the office fell vacant.”

CHRA said the fact that no election had been called nearly six months after Mudzuri was fired showed that authorities were in serious dereliction of duty.

“The registrar-general has a statutory obligation to immediately give notice and take all such steps as may be necessary to have elections to fill the vacancy for the mayor and to make the voters roll of the city of Harare available for public inspection,” it said.

In 2001, CHRA successfully challenged government to hold the mayoral election in Harare after the city had gone for three years without a substantive mayor.

The city was run by the Elijah Chanakira commission following the dismissal of the late mayor Solomon Tawengwa in 1999 for corruption and incompetence.

After several court battles, government eventually held elections for Harare in March 2002, concurrently with the presidential and the municipal polls.

The MDC-backed Mudzuri won by a large majority.

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