Battle looming over fired MDC councillors

HARARE - A battle is looming between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development Ignatius Chombo over 12 recently expelled councillors from MDC.

The 12 councillors were expelled on corruption charges.

Chombo has in the past refused to act on expelled MDC councillors in Chitungwiza and a similar situation may be unfolding.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said his party had written to Chombo informing him that the party had expelled 12 councillors and was expecting them to step down from carrying out their council duties.

“I can confirm that our secretary-general office has prepared a letter to Chombo’s attention informing him about our decision to expel the councillors. We know that Chombo is not going to take any action. He will protect the councillors because some of them are his friends,” said Mwonzora.

The councillors were dismissed last week on Friday following an audit led by party’s deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada on activities of rural and urban councils that were implicated in corrupt activities.

Harare deputy mayor, Emmanuel Chiroto, together with councillors Peter Marange, Exevia Vengesayi and Pumulani Musagwiza were fired while in Bindura, acting mayor Ivory Matanhire together with councillors Makesure Mafukidze, Norbert Dhokotera, Rindai Muchemwa, Rickson Kaseke and Elizabeth Mafios met the same fate.

In Gweru, mayor Tedious Chimombe was booted out while in Zvishavane council chairperson Alluwis Zhou was fired.

Contacted for comment Chombo said he had not received any document from MDC on the expelled councillors.

“I have not received anything about the councillors, so I cannot comment on it,” said Chombo.

Chitungwiza town council had 24 councillors who were dismissed by the MDC leadership in 2009 but were reinstated by Chombo and continued working as councillors.

Chombo however, eventually dismissed them in January this year.

Urban councils are being run by town clerks and appointed commissions with special councillors appointed by Chombo.

According to Urban Council Act Section 29.15, the Local government minister is empowered to run the city council affairs and appointing a commission to run city councils’ affairs.

The interference by Chombo in council affairs triggered a motion in Parliament by MDC MP for Buhera Central Tangwara Matimba.

MPs wanted the Urban Act to reduce the powers of Chombo and central government over municipal and town councils thereby encouraging democracy at local levels.

Matimba was supported by MDC MP for Highfield West Simon Hove.

Since 2002, MDC has managed to secure victory in the urban council elections sweeping past Zanu PF councillors.

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