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Chegutu fails to return vendors wares despite court ruling, Minister to act

Chegutu Municipality has failed to abide by a 2019 High Court directive to return wares it had confiscated from vendors in the town’s central business district.

Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister, Marian Chombo last week told Parliament that she was going to intervene to make sure authorities abide by the court ruling.

In 2019, Godwin Mhiwa and 105 others approached the High Court challenging their eviction from their vending sites in the CBD. Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled against Chegutu Municipality and ordered it to return vendors’ wares it had confiscated.

Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna on Wednesday asked the Minister to intervene citing that the local authority was not abiding with the High Court ruling.

“Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. This question arises after the directive of the Hon. Speaker, yesterday where I spoke about a judgement which was handed down by Justice Chitapi on 24th December, 2019. The applicants were Godfrey Mhihwa and other 105 vendors from Chegutu.

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“The respondents were the Municipality of Chegutu and Officer Commanding, Zimbabwe Republic Police of Chegutu. So the Hon. Speaker directed that this question be asked today and I request that you direct it accordingly Madam Speaker Ma’am,” he asked.

“It follows that if a judgement has been handed down in the High Court and there is no appeal against that judgement in the requisite time, would it please the Hon. Minister of Local Government to both conscientise the relevant municipalities of the judgement which is present and indeed, because it is now a locus standi, and it was a test case, that it cascades to all local authorities that they have no mandate to confiscate the wares of vendors both in Chegutu and indeed in the whole country?

“Also, to say to the local authorities, return the wares according to this judgement, if those wares have been confiscated. As we speak, this has to be done in order to avert and completely annihilate the scourge of confiscation of vendors’ wares because Chegutu Municipality is now going to be sitting on a very big bill in terms of compensation, running into millions of dollars, which might see them getting their properties attached.

“Would it please the Hon. Minister to conscientise the local authorities and to also make sure that the judgement that has been handed down is adhered to, to the ethos and the values of this judgement so that there is compensation which indeed will be approaching the courts to get the compensation because the wares have not been returned according to this judgement?”

Accordingly, Chombo pledged to personally go to Chegutu and to make sure that vendors are given back their wares.

“Thank you very much Hon. Speaker. I would like to thank Hon. Nduna for that very pertinent question. My Ministry, like any other Ministry, abides by the law. If there was a judgement that was passed as you alluded to, we encourage our local authorities to abide by that judgement.

“As such, I am going to make it a point that I will visit Chegutu Municipality, which you have highlighted, to see to it that they implement the judgement,” she said.