Fired councillor tackles Chombo

HARARE - A councillor who was sacked after blowing the whistle on $1,6 million corruption in the Umguza rural district in Matabeleland North has dragged Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo to court for unlawful termination.

Councillor Mxolisi Ndlovu of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC was dismissed by Chombo in October over what he says are trumped up charges after raising alarm at a $1,6 million tender corruptly awarded by Umguza chief executive officer Collen Moyo to a non-existent company to rehabilitate Ilitshe road, a 12km stretch that connects Victoria Falls to Nkayi in Matabeleland North.

Ndlovu raised alarm after noting that council workers were rehabilitating the road when there was a $1,6 million tender issued out to a private company.

The CEO was briefly arrested, but was freed on $1 000 bail and went to work.

For Ndlovu, however, the tables turned when the rural district council, chaired by Sikhanyisiwe Mpofu, wife to Zanu PF MP for the constituency Obert Mpofu, recommended that he should be sacked.

Ndlovu is the only councillor from Tsvangirai’s MDC in a council with 17 other councillors.

“I hearby advise you that you’ve been found guilty of dismissable offences and I am thus in terms of section 157/4 of the Rural District Council Act (29) dismiss you from being a councillor of Umguza rural district council with immediate effect,” Chombo’s October 22, 2012 letter to Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu has now approached the High Court in Bulawayo challenging his dismissal by Chombo, which he asserts was politically motivated. He is also suing the minister for wrongful dismissal without pay, breach of contract and defamation.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

“The investigations that led to me being charged with seven counts of misconduct were patently biased and clearly conducted along politically partisan lines,” Ndlovu said in his court papers.

“The investigation team only confined itself to and obtained statements from people only affiliated to Zanu PF and shunned and avoided those affiliated to the MDC to which I am affiliated to. This on its own was a strong bias that compromised the whole process and first respondent (Chombo) should not have persisted with the process amidst such blatant partisanship.”

Ndlovu said the decision made by Chombo was premeditated and biased. “All the charges were trumped up against me to silence me for my vocal objections and exposure of tender corruption to the Ilitshe Road. The whole process was a way of punishing me for exercising my right to speak about the illegality of the public tender process.”

Ndlovu is just the latest councillor to be sacked by Chombo.

The minister has so far suspended a total of four MDC councillors in Harare for corruption; five in Rusape; one in Nyaminyami Rural District Council; two in Zvimba Rural District Council.

The MDC accuse him of abusing the Urban Council Act, pointedly Section 114, to wield the axe on several MDC councillors countrywide. He has also used the Act to fire several MDC mayors.

But Chombo said it was within his powers to fire corrupt MDC councillors.

“Local authorities are a lower tier of government. They are not the principal tier of government,” he said.

“They enjoy borrowed power from us which we are free to take if we think they are abusing it. That we have done effectively and efficiently.” - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.