SIX Hurungwe West headmen were unceremoniously relieved of their positions after allegedly refusing to support a Zanu PF preferred candidate, the late Keith Guzah, during the 2015 Hurungwe West by-election.
Member Mutinha, Aleck Munhava, Alton Manjonjo, Morgan Gora, Nobo Mahobo and Taurai Machipisa have now approached the High Court challenging the decision which was taken by Hurungwe West district administrator (now District development co-ordinator (DDC)) to strip them of their positions without a charge.
In his founding affidavit, one of the affected traditional heads Mutinha, who is cited as the first applicant said his ordeal and that of his co-applicants started in 2015 during the election campaign when Guzah was contesting for the same seat with now Norton MP Temba Mliswa.
Mutinha said the then minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, openly accused him and his co-applicants of not supporting the Zanu PF and its preferred candidate and that they were unsuitable to be village leaders.
“During a campaign rally held on Sunday April 26, 2015 at Nyambuya Primary School Ignatius Chombo, then minister of Local Government, who administered the affairs of traditional leaders, openly accused myself (Mutinha) and my co applicants of not supporting Zanu PF and its preferred candidate, Keith Guzah, and openly announced our unsuitability to be village leaders,” Mutinha said.
“I further aver that during the period extending from April 26, 2015 to May 10, 2015 the first respondent (Chief Nyamhunga (Boniface Chinehasha)) personally invited myself and my co-applicants to his homestead and issued us with verbal dismissal from traditional leadership positions as village heads.”
In the application, Mutinha cited Chief Nyamhunga, DDC, president of the Chief’s Council, Fortune Charumbira and Local Government minister, July Moyo as respondents.
Mutinha said they had made several efforts to seek clarity on the issue, but were later advised by the DDC that their positions had been filled and their cases sealed adding that the benefits and stipends they used to receive had also been scrapped off.
“This whole unhandsome corollary unfolded notwithstanding the settled position of the law with regards to the removal of traditional leaders. I am most aggrieved in that no charge of misconduct was ever levelled against myself nor any of my co-applicants other than our alleged refusal to participate in partisan politics and furthering the fortune of one political party,” Mutinha said.
“No inquiry or investigation was ever instituted. The dismissal of all of us was never justified and no efforts whatsoever were taken to explain the same … I am of the considered view that I am paying a heavy price for obeying the Constitution of Zimbabwe. In refusing to support Keith Guzah, the then Zanu PF candidate and staying out of politics, I aver that I and my colleagues clearly complied with section 281 of the Constitution which provides that traditional leaders should not ‘act in a partisan manner or further the interest of a political party or cause’.”
Mutinha also said, to add insult to injury, their dismissal was never done in terms of the law, adding it “was a brazen act of thuggery in which the law was never used but political muscle”.
“At all the stages of the process leading to our removal from the office of the Headman, we were denied the most basic, the most elementary and most sacrosanct of all the rights, the right to be heard before any decision was taken affecting one’s rights commonly referred to as audi alteram partem rule, a tenet of natural justice which goes back to the beginning of time when God granted Adam the right to make out his defence from committing the cardinal sin before banishing him out from the garden of Eden.”
The matter is pending.