By Oliver Kazunga
Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya has lost the presidency of the association after the High Court declared the results and proceedings of the elections which brought her to the helm of the small-scale miners’ body invalid.
The court ruling handed down on March 26, 2019 came just as the ZMF announced a decision to change its name to the Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners’ Federation (ZASMF).
Ms Rushwaya was elected ZMF president in June last year but a group of small-scale miners under the Zvishavane-Mberengwa Miners’ Association (ZMMA) challenged her election at the High Court.
The miners accused Ms Rushwaya of using unorthodox means to takeover the leadership of ZMF.
They filed an application at the High Court seeking an order to block the holding of the elections and to have them indefinitely rescheduled arguing that Ms Rushwaya wanted to usurp ZMF leadership through unconstitutional means.
High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi granted a provisional order suspending the holding of elections on June 14, 2018 but the federation went ahead with the elections which were won by Ms Rushwaya.
The old ZMF executive led by Mr Ishmael Kaguru boycotted the elections.
In her ruling last week, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo said:
“The court, being a court of law, cannot embrace a willy-nilly departure from one’s constitutional dictates. Not only is adherence to one’s constitution good for law and order, but it is also a good corporate governance principle. The reason why there is a constitution in the first place is so that the association or organisation operates within the confines of good order to avoid chaos.”
She said the court could not encourage organisations to breach their own constitutions and do as they please.
“That is unlawful and this court cannot lend a hand to allow an unlawfulness to prevail. Respondent is bound by the provisions of the constitution and if intended to defend this application, it should have done so within the confines of its own constitution.
“It is for these reasons that I hold that the notice of opposition and the opposing affidavit are not properly before the court, as they have been brought through the back door and not in accordance with respondent’s own constitutional provisions. As a result, I will proceed to confirm the provisional order, which in my view stands unopposed . . . The provisional order granted by this court on June 14 2018, be and is hereby confirmed,” said Justice Moyo.
In an interview, ZMF general council member Mr Helem Mhlanga said following the final court order, they held their general council meeting in Gweru last Thursday .
“The High Court has directed that the old executive led by Mr Kaguru should take over the leadership of ZMF and lead the organisation to election.
“The second recommendation was to constitute a board as directed by the court, the board that would investigate the allegations levelled against (Ms) Rushwaya, the board will also assist vetting of candidates to participate in the ZMF next election,” he said. The Chronicle