Zimbabwean local government officials on Wednesday hailed a decision this week by the Harare High Court ordering the reinstatement of four Harare city councilors fired last year by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo for alleged corruption.
High Court Justice Bharat Patel ruled that Chombo unfairly dismissed Paul Gorekore, Silas Machetu, Maxwell Katsande and Johnson Zaranyika, saying that the investigation set afoot by Chombo was based on a “grossly irrational” judgment.
A Harare magistrate last week acquitted two other Harare councilors, both members of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Warship Dumba and Casper Takura were arrested this month on Chombo’s instructions for alleged fraud.
The MDC has accused Chombo of meddling in the business of municipal councils and of engaging in corrupt activities, calling for his removal from office. The minister is a member of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.
Chombo could not be reached for comment. Sources said he was away in Singapore.
The Zimbabwean House of Assembly this week adopted a motion proposing to amend the Urban Councils Act to reduce the powers of the controversial minister.
Deputy Local Government Minister Sesil Zvidzai of the MDC said his party applauded the High Court ruling and hoped it would discourage the politicization of local government.