LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday vowed to block any attempts by the MDC-T to fire its councillors who refused to toe the party line and voted Zanu PF mayoral candidates ahead of their party’s choice in the just-ended mayoral elections.
Chombo was reacting to reports that the MDC-T had expelled its newly-elected Mutare mayor Tatenda Nhamarare and three other councillors for allegedly defying the party’s directives on selection of mayoral candidates.
Nhamarare, who was not the MDC-T nominee for the mayor’s post, eventually landed the post after Zanu PF councillors allegedly voted him on condition a Zanu PF candidate would get the deputy mayorship.
The party has threatened to fire several other councillors in Gweru, Kwekwe, Redcliff and Victoria Falls over similar allegations.
In an exclusive interview with our sister paper NewsDay, Chombo said: “Nothing has changed since five years ago. Councillors choose the competent person to lead them, so it’s not party business to appoint anyone.
“We go by what is in the Constitution which is very clear on the matter. We have to go by the law and any political party that undermines that, it’s unfortunate and will not be tolerated.”
However, MDC-T shadow minister for Local Government Sesel Zvidzai immediately shot back saying: “He will be in contravention of the law, but in the event that he has his way, he can have them (fired councillors). We know they are short of councillors. The law is clear on that.”
Yesterday, Killian Mpingo, permanent secretary in Chombo’s ministry described the MDC-T threats as “invalid and against the law”.
“The matter is not as easy as they think. There are constitutional provisions they have to look at. First, they notify the Local Government ministry. The Constitution provides for the setting up of a tribunal that is supposed to interrogate the action and give the accused a chance to give his side of the story.
“According to the law, no councillor should leave office unless there is full compliance,” Mpingo said.
The MDC-T is battling to deal with the matter with the Midlands South having recommended for the dismissal of newly-elected Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and nine other councillors for defying Tsvangirai by not electing Charles Chikozho, the party’s choice.
Meanwhile, in Redcliff — the MDC-T has launched investigations into allegations that some of its councillors were bribed to vote for Zanu PF’s Fredy Kapuya as mayor.
Kapuya won the elections with five votes compared to Tapiwa Chikwira’s four in a poll which triggered a massive witch hunt in the district.