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Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
FORMER Councillor for Ward 21 in Bulawayo who was fired following recommendations by an independent tribunal, has taken the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Cde Saviour Kasukuwere to court challenging his dismissal.
Mr Reuben Matengu was fired in February this year together with Deputy Mayor Gift Banda after the two appeared before the independent tribunal for gross misconduct and mismanagement following their suspension in September 2016.
Mr Banda’s application for dismissal of the charges and the tribunal’s verdict is pending in the courts.
In papers before the court, Mr Matengu cited Minister Kasukuwere, Bulawayo City Council, the independent tribunal and its members Advocate Hilda Makusha Moyo, Mr Midard Khumalo and Ms Lucy Manhokwe as respondents.
Mr Matengu, who is being represented by lawyers TJ Mabhikwa and Partners, seeks an order nullifying the decision of the independent tribunal and clearing him of misconduct.
The axed councillor wants the court to reinstate him without loss of allowances and benefits.
Minister Kasukuwere relieved Mr Matengu of his duties following recommendations made by the tribunal. He was found guilty of selling a residential stand in Southwold suburb, which he had bought under a special facility which gave him a 40 percent discount on the purchase price.
He was not supposed to resell it according to the agreement of sale.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Matengu said the tribunal erred when it found him guilty of gross misconduct, arguing that its decision was premised on irregular and unreasonable findings.
He argued that he paid for the stand in full and sought authority from the council’s director of housing and community services to dispose it.
“The basis of this application is that the decision of the first respondent (independent tribunal ) finding me guilty of an act of gross misconduct in the acquisition of stand number 18784 in Southwold, paying for it in full and having sought authority and permission to dispose it is grossly irregular and unreasonable,” said Mr Matengu.
He said there was enough evidence placed before the tribunal proving that he had been granted permission by relevant council authorities to sell the stand.
“The tribunal proved beyond reasonable doubt that I had been granted permission by the director of housing and community services to dispose the stand before signing the agreement of sale. I wrote a letter to the director of housing and community services informing him of my intention to dispose of the stand as per his advice,” said Mr Matengu.
He said there was no evidence suggesting that he took advantage of his position as a councillor to acquire the stand.
“Of note is that I even specified that I was applying for the stand as a benefit for councillors. It therefore follows that the acquisition of the stand was motivated by the needs and wants to advance myself and upgrade my social standing,” said Mr Matengu.
“I therefore seek a review of the first respondent’s decision, and that it accordingly is set aside and substituted with an order finding me not guilty of any act of misconduct, and reinstating me as Councillor for Ward 21 in Bulawayo with no loss of allowances and benefits.”