An urgent chamber application has been filed in the High Court seeking to have deputy Finance and Economic Development minister Terence Mukupe relieved of his duties following accusations that he assaulted his subordinate.
Mukupe was on April 10, this year, fined $30 for beating up Ignatius Mvere, the finance director in the ministry, for refusing to give him allowances above those approved by government.
The matter was reported at the Criminal Investigations Department Law and Order, Harare Central Police Station, under case number CR2321/03/18.
Following this embarrassing incident, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now under pressure to fire Mukupe.
Through their lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe of Tafadzwa Ralph Mugabe Legal Counsel, Stephanie Mutasa, Rachel Chichewo, Kimberly Hanyani-Mlambo, Nompilo Simanje, Simisosenkosi Mloyi and Lisah Kasvosve are arguing that the deputy minister acted unlawfully and should therefore be shown the door.
Mukupe, Mvere, Prosecutor-General Prince Machaya and Mnangagwa were cited as the respondents.
The six, who are members of the public, told the court that they became aware of Mukupe’s shenanigans, after his conduct was reported in two national newspapers, prompting them to seek legal advice, which culminated in the application.
According to Mutasa’s affidavit, Mukupe violated the applicants’ constitutional rights to administrative justice as set out in Section 68 of the Constitution.
“Accordingly, the continuation of the first respondent (Mukupe) in the service as deputy minister of Finance is undermining our confidence in the public administration and in the duties owed to us by public officials including the requirement that public officials account to the public for their decisions and actions set out in Section 196 (3) (c) of the Constitution…
“Additionally, the first respondent is a threat to other civil servants under his employ. His continued service as deputy minister of Finance is a threat to national funds in respect of which the applicants pay taxes. Unless this honourable court intervenes, there is a risk and possibility that the first respondent will continue to undermine the Constitution and thus the applicants’ confidence in the public administration, threaten employees and seek to use his position to unduly enrich himself at the expense of the fiscus,” the court was told.
The applicants further said that Mukupe has a duty to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in his office, adding that his conduct was unlawful.
“He acted unlawfully by assaulting a subordinate in violation of Section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23). He acted unlawfully by breaching his obligations under the Constitution as provided for in Section 106 (2) (b) and (c) as read with Section 196 of the Constitution which require the first respondent not to improperly use his position to enrich himself. This he did by demanding from the second respondent (Mvere) that he receives more than had been allocated for his travelling allowance as set out in the treasury circular.
“The first respondent’s conduct was unreasonable and disproportionate and as such a violation of Section 68 of the Constitution as the allowance given to him by the second respondent was not determined by the second respondent but by a treasury circular. The second respondent was only acting in accordance with his constitutional duty under Section 200 (2) not to obey an order that is manifestly illegal,” Mutasa said.
The applicants are now seeking an order for Mnangagwa to show cause within 10 days, why Mukupe must remain in office as a deputy Finance minister notwithstanding the criminal conviction.
They also want in the interim an order barring Mukupe from performing the duties of a deputy minister pending the finalisation of the case.
The High Court has, however, since ruled that the matter is not urgent, meaning it will now have to follow the normal court roll.
The application comes after Mvere reported an assault case against Mukupe, an offence the deputy minister admitted to and paid a fine on April 10, this year.
In his affidavit to the police, Mvere, 58, said he reported for duty on March 29, this year, when the assault incident took place.
“Prior to this incident, on 25 March, 2018, accused (Mukupe) travelled to South Africa on business attending Sadc meetings and returned on 28 March, 2018. According to our treasury circular, I had given him $910 but he insisted I must give him much more than that.
“I could not give him more money since he had no reasonable grounds or a letter from the minister of Finance authorising me to pay him more than what is the Treasury circular,” Mvere said.