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Court bans July Moyo from interfering with running of local authorities

High Court judge Justice Justice Priscilla Munangati Manongwa this week issued a prohibition order banning Local Government Minister July Moyo from interfering with the day to day running of local authorities.

This comes after Biti Law Chambers assisted the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and four others to challenge the constitutionality of the provisions of Section 314 Urban Councils Act as not conforming to the dictates of the Constitution.

The section gave July Moyo powers to rescind council resolutions or meddle in the running of local authorities.

Reads the section: “314 Minister may reverse, suspend, rescind resolutions, decisions, etc. of councils (1) Where the Minister is of the view that any resolution, decision or action of a council is not in the interests of the inhabitants of the council area concerned or is not in the national or public interest, the Minister may direct the council to reverse, suspend or rescind such resolution or decision or to reverse or suspend such action.

“(2) Any direction of the Minister in terms of subsection (1) to a council shall be in writing. (3) The council shall, with all due expedition, comply with any direction given to it in terms of subsection (1).”

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But the applicants told the court that Section 314 was giving the Minister unnecessary powers to make decisions even on non- policy issues and that the section allows Moyo to interfere with the running of council business when he is not an elected councillor.

Justice Manongwa ruled in favour of the applicants.

“It is therefore ordered as follows: Section 314 of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] is ultra vires the provisions of so 264(2), 265(1) and (2), 274 and 276(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and is hereby declared invalid.

“The respondent to pay costs. The court is cognizant of the further progression of the matter vis confirmation of the order in terms of s 175 of the Constitution as read with s 31 of the Constitutional Court Rules,” ruled Justice Manongwa

Moyo has been making huge decisions on behalf of local authorities.

Last year, without the consent of councils or an Act of Parliament, Moyo decided to divert more than US$55 million of devolution funds to buying fire trucks from Belarus for 89 councils in a deal that raises suspicions of irregularities and corruption.