HARARE – Local government minister July Moyo on Wednesday imposed Stewart Mutizwa as acting mayor of Harare, even as a court threw out an application for Harare mayor Jacob Mafume to be barred from Town House.
A special council meeting called on Monday to elect a new acting mayor was abandoned after it failed to constitute a quorum. The meeting was held after the town clerk wrote a letter to Moyo on September 24 declaring a vacancy in the office of the mayor for the City of Harare.
Appointing Mutizwa as acting mayor, Moyo said the local authority had failed in its duty to fill the position, which according to him has been vacant since September 14 when he suspended Mafume as a councillor without pay.
“In terms of section 104(2) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15), I hereby appoint SM Mtizwa, ward 9 Greendale councillor, as the acting mayor for the City of Harare with immediate effect,” Moyo said.
Moyo’s directive came as Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna dismissed an application by the National Prosecuting Authority for Mafume to be barred from going to work pending his trial for obstructing the course of justice.
Prosecutor Michael Reza wanted Mafume barred from duty arguing that he was likely to interfere with witnesses, but Nduna said his court had no jurisdiction to amend bail conditions which were imposed by the High Court.
He also said the NPA did not bring up new facts.
“The accused was arrested for obstructing the course of justice and was admitted to bail with the same grounds that the state brought up for the application. New grounds are not raised in the state’s application therefore it needs modification and the court cannot grant that application, it is dangerous at law,” Nduna ruled.
Reza had told Nduna that if Mafume continued to go to work, he might put pressure on the witnesses who are all council workers.
Mafume is being accused of obstructing the course of justice or alternatively contempt of court for allegedly interfering with a key witness, Edgar Dzehonye, in another matter where he is facing criminal abuse of office charges relating to the alleged allocation of housing stands to relatives.
Mafume is represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu.