Bulawayo High Court Justice Thompson Mabhikwa has ruled Ward 3 Councillor Tinashe Kambarami’s election into office is null and void.
Justice Mabhikwa said the court cannot duck its head in the sand and ignore illegalities as it is mandated to protect rule of law and the doctrine of legality.
The ruling was made after 1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement (1893MRM) and Nomagugu Dabengwa filed an application seeking the High Court to declare Kambarami unfit for public office as he has a criminal record.
In July 2018, Kambarami appeared before a Bulawayo magistrate on theft charges where he pleaded guilty and was fined $80 or 18 days in prison for stealing an extension cord from an electrician he had hired to do manual work at his offices.
1893 MRM argued that Kambarami was imposed on the electorate by his party – the MDC despite having a criminal record.
“It is hereby declared that the election of Ward 3 Councillor in Bulawayo was in contravention of the Electoral Act following his Conviction at the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court and it is therefore set aside on account of being null and void and his unsuitability to hold public office,” ruled Justice Mabhikwa.
In their application, Kambarami was cited as first respondent, the second was the Bulawayo City Council, the third respondent was the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the fourth – MDC.
Of these respondents, besides Kambarami, the other three respondents were not opposed to the particular application, as they did not file any opposing papers.
1893 MRM cited Section 119 (2) (e) of the Electoral Act: Section 41 (7) and Section 41 (8) of the Urban Councils Act that bars convicted persons from holding public office.
Section 119 (2) (e) of the Electoral Act reads, “a person shall be disqualified from being nominated as a candidate for or from election as a councilor if he or she has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty”.
The applicant’s lawyer, Godfrey Nyoni in a sideline interview told CITE that once a ruling has been made by the High Court, it is effected immediately.
“It is upto Kambarami’s lawyers to inform him of the court outcome. They were there in court and have duly noted the developments,” said Nyoni.
Kora Ndebele of the 1893 Mthwakazi Republic Party said they have nothing against Kambarami as a person but are not happy with the way in which electoral boards are not enforcing electoral laws.
Ndebele said if Kambarami so decides to challenge the High Court decision through the Supreme Court, they are ready to stand their ground and fight for what is best for the Bulawayo community. “We cannot have dishonest people holding public offices,” said Ndebele.
Nyoni had argued before the court that Kambarami’s conviction and dishonesty disqualified him from holding public office.
“Those who aspire public office must be trusted and have confidence of the electorate. Above all a candidate must be a person above reproach and be honourable. Dishonesty is not consistent with principles of public decency and moral aptitude.
If convicted of dishonesty, one cannot participate and this provision in the Electoral Act was not designed for dishonest persons but to make sure that the state and municipal structures preserve integrity,” he argued.
Nyoni noted that once someone is convicted it killed public confidence and prayed for the court to nullify Kambarami’s election.
“We must protect the culture of purity, honesty and inspire trust and confidence in any municipal and state structure. The conviction of theft involves dishonesty.
His election should be declared a nullity and respondent must be removed from office. Court must uphold principle of loyalty and protect rule of law and integrity of state and municipal structure,” said Nyoni.