Tsvangirai in big U-turn

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai appears to have given in to a directive by Local Government Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo on the selection of mayors after choosing alternative candidates for Harare and Chitungwiza mayoral positions.
Moses Matenga/Everson Mushava

The development follows an order by Chombo barring non-elected officials from contesting mayoral posts. Tsvangirai had until yesterday’s caucus meeting endorsed Obert Gutu for Harare and Isaac Manyemba for Chitungwiza, while Mandla Nyathi had been shortlisted for Bulawayo.

As Plan B, in case Chombo’s order carries the day, the party has settled for Ward 8 and 17 councillors Chris Mbanga and Bernard Manyenyeni for Harare.

It could, however, not immediately be established who had been nominated for Chitungwiza.

Newly-appointed chief whip for Harare City Council Peter Moyo confirmed the developments, saying the decision was reached as the party was awaiting the court ruling on the matter.

“It’s a suggestion that was brought up and we all agreed to it,” he said.

Impeccable sources who attended the caucus addressed by Tsvangirai, said the former Prime Minister brought out the idea and no one challenged him.

MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and secretary for local government Blessing Chebundo attended the meeting.

“The president called for the caucus and said we should have an alternative plan,” the source said.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed Plan B, adding that the party arrived at the decision after putting into consideration the “uncertainty of the courts’ view on the matter”.

“I can confirm that in view of the uncertainty of how courts may look at this matter, we have decided to look at Plan B, should our persistence with the courts fail,” he said. “I’m not yet at liberty to disclose who may be the chosen ones.”

It was not immediately clear who the party had selected to be an alternative to Nyathi for the Bulawayo mayor’s post.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Court yesterday threw out an application by the MDC-T seeking to block Chombo from interfering with the election of mayors.

The matter, which was set before judge Justice Andrew Makoni, was thrown out on the basis the party had approached the wrong court.

“The Electoral Court said it has no jurisdiction to hear the case,” MDC-T lawyer Tendai Amon Toto, said.

He said they had approached the Electoral Court because they felt the mayoral elections were a continuation of the July 31 polls.

“The matter is no longer in the hands of the Electoral Court,” Toto explained.

“We have an option to approach the High Court to hear the same urgent application and make a determination to grant and reject the relief sought.”

He said the MDC-T could also approach the Constitutional Court for interpretation of the contentious Sections 265(2) and 274(2), as read with Section 275 of the Constitution, in relation to provisions of the Urban Councils Act and the Local Government Laws Amendment Act.

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