THE High Court has dismissed Nelson Chamisa faction’s Victoria Falls councillor Richard Mguni’s bid to stop the nullification of his election as mayor by fellow MDC-Alliance councillors after Government reinstated Douglas Mwonzora faction’s Clr Somvelo Dhlamini to the top post in the resort town.
Clr Dlamini was expelled by the MDC-Alliance early this year on allegations of violating party rules leading to Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo declaring the seat vacant.
Victoria Falls councillors then sat as a full council and elected Clr Mguni as the new mayor to replace Clr Dhlamini despite the municipal management insisting that the election be deferred.
Last month, Minister Moyo reinstated Clr Dhlamini on the basis of a letter written by Mr Douglas Mwonzora who is secretary general of the MDC-T of 2014, as per the recent Supreme Court ruling which recognised Dr Thokozani Khupe as the party leader.
This led to a legal battle in the High Court as Clr Mguni sought to block Clr Dhlamini from reclaiming the mayoral position.
Following an urgent chamber application by Clr Mguni challenging Minister Moyo’s decision to reinstate Clr Dhlamini, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Christopher Dube-Banda has ruled that he had failed to establish prima facie right to challenge Government’s decision to reinstate his rival.
Justice Dube-Banda said Clr Mguni failed to prove that there was a vacancy in the mayoral office at the time he claims he was elected.
“My view is that applicant (Clr Mguni) has failed to establish prima facie, though open to some doubt that he was elected mayor of Victoria Falls Municipality and assumed office as the mayor and set out to perform his duties,” he said.
“My finding is that applicant has not established prima facie right and therefore the requirement of a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm if the interim relief is not granted does arise in this case. The balance of inconvenience does not favour the granting of interim relief because applicant has not established prima facie right.”
Justice Dube-Banda said in the event that the court was to uphold Clr Mguni’s request, it was going to result in him taking over the mayoral office of Victoria Falls and dislodging Clr Dhlamini.
“On the facts of this case, I take the view that an interim interdict sought by the applicant must be refused. The applicant failed to discharge such onus and in the result, the interim relief sought by the applicant is dismissed with costs,” ruled the judge.
Clr Mguni through his lawyers Ncube Attorney, had filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Minister Moyo, Clr Dhlamini and Victoria Falls Municipality as respondents.
In his founding affidavit, Clr Mguni said Minister Moyo’s directive to reinstate Clr Dhlamini was unlawful.
Clr Mguni argued that for Minister Moyo to reverse the recall decision by his party in terms of section 129 (k) as read with section 278 (1) of the Constitution or his election, the minister required a court order.
He said his constitutional rights to seek and hold public office were being violated.
In a letter dated May 5, 2020, written to Clr Dhlamini and Victoria Falls Municipality, Minister Moyo said the former mayor had been reinstated with immediate effect without loss of benefits.
He said Clr Dhlamini was reinstated as a councillor and there was no provision for an election of a new mayor. The Minister said Clr Dhlamini retains his mayoral post until the end of his term of office.