OUTGOING Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo plans to block Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T from appointing unelected mayors in Bulawayo, Harare and Chitungwiza.
MOSES MATENGA/WONAI MASVINGISE
MDC-T leader has endorsed Justice and Legal Affairs former deputy minister Obert Gutu and former journalist Isaac Manyemba as Harare and Chitungwiza incoming mayors respectively.
Tomorrow Tsvangirai will be in Bulawayo “to help” the provincial executive to select the city’s next mayor amid indications that National University of Science and Technology lecturer Mandla Nyathi is the front-runner.
But the former Prime Minister’s efforts could prove to be in vain as Chombo claims the appointments would be illegal.
“Mayors are elected according to the new Constitution,” he said. “They will choose from the committees that council sets up the day they first meet.
“The provincial administrator or the district administrator will preside over those elections,” Chombo said.
“You have to choose from the councillors elected in that area under jurisdiction.”
The Zanu PF politburo member said MDC-T was instrumental in changing the law to restrict the selection of mayors for the major cities.
“There is nothing ambiguous; it’s very clear. They contributed to that and now they can’t say chinja maitiro (change),” he said.
“It’s now the law and the law stands.
“They can do whatever they want, but the councillors will choose a mayor from among themselves when they meet and will do the same for the deputy mayors.”
He said the MDC-T risked a similar revolt it faced in Chitungwiza in 2010 when the party imposed a candidate that was later rejected by councillors.
But MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora yesterday insisted that the party’s interpretation of the law was correct.
“We are a party of rules. We have to listen to the party leadership, in this instance the national executive and the standing committee,” he said.
“No councillor has voiced their concern and they know the channels of communication. We expect discipline.”
Tawanda Zhuwarara, a legal expert said a political party can choose a mayor.
“What happens is in terms of Section 272 (1), at the first sitting after every general election, a provincial council must elect a chairperson from a list of at least two qualified persons submitted by a political party which gained the highest number of National Assembly seats in the province,” he said.
“This provision does not say anything on who those people are.
“The party is the one that provides two names and it shall go for a vote and whoever wins shall become the chairperson of that provincial council.”
MDC-T won all the council wards in Bulawayo during the July 31 elections and also controls Harare and Chitungwiza.