Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Former Harare town clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi whose contract was terminated by council last week has approached the High Court seeking an order compelling the city to reinstate him on the basis that it did not involve the Local Government Board in terminating his contract. Last week, the full council endorsed the decision to terminate Dr Mahachi’s contract which was made by the human resources and general purposes committee.
In an application filed at the High Court by Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba instructed by Mr Chenjerai Daitai of Magwaliba and Kwirira Legal Practitioners, Dr Mahachi argued that Section 139(2) of the Urban Councils’ Act requires that prior to the termination of a contract of employment in respect of a town clerk, the Local Government Board must approve the termination.
Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni is cited as the first respondent in his personal capacity and his official capacity as mayor, Harare City Council second and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere is cited the third respondent.
In his founding affidavit Dr Mahachi also contests the revision of his salary and benefits and wants the court to interdict Mayor Manyenyeni and the city from taking action that adversely affects his rights or interests including terminating his contract or diminishing any benefits.
“What I am, however, aware of is the fact that the Local Government Board is involved where my contract of employment as the town clerk is about to be terminated. This is so in terms of Section 139 (2) of the Urban Councils Act. The said statutory provision requires that prior to the termination of a contract of employment of a town clerk, the Local Government Board must approve the termination.
“Section 123 (1)(e) of the Act also enjoins the said board to approve the appointment and discharge of senior officials of council. As indicated above, no such issue was pending prior to my unlawful removal from the office on June 30, 2015,” he argued.
Dr Mahachi argued that he is a professional and exercised his skills as a manager of a public enterprise while carrying out his duties arguing that his removal from office has therefore cast aspersions as to his competency and performance accusing Mayor Manyenyeni of scandalising him in the media.
He said the mayor had requested a copy of his birth certificate, national identity card and passport but argued that the documents were irrelevant for the purposes of resolving any dispute between the city and him.
Dr Mahachi further argued that if he was guilty of any misconduct the mayor should have suspended him. “It follows that council has not conducted an enquiry as required by Section 139(4) of the Urban Councils Act in relation to the circumstances of my suspension.
“I have not been furnished with any charges which I can answer to before council. No inquiry has been conducted whatsoever in relation to my suspension. In that regard, therefore, council cannot reduce my salary or allowance.
“It is, therefore, evident that whatever deliberations that the council may have made, if it has met are irregular. They are not proper deliberations . . . This is because no charges have been levelled against me. And yet, the letter removing me from work suggests that I have committed acts of misconduct.” Dr Mahachi wants the court to declare his dismissal as unlawful.
He argues that Mayor Manyenyeni’s conduct has been nothing short of capricious and wants him and the city to pay the legal costs. He also outlined the conditions in which he set for council if it was to terminate his contract among them a mansion in Belvedere and two top of the range vehicles. More than $100 000 for every year he served the city among other demands.
Dr Mahachi joined the city in 2007.