Beef stolen from Susan Tsvangirai's funeral pits Boss Chombo against council

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Mutare City Council has ignored a directive by Ignatius Chombo, the local government minister, to reinstate the city’s deputy mayor, who was fired for stealing meat at the funeral of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife last year.

Admire Mukorera, an Movement for Democratic Change official from Tsvangirai’s home province of Manicaland, was dismissed last year shortly after the incident.

The former deputy mayor who has since been suspended from MDC party is said to have stolen beef, chicken, bread, sugar, cooking oil and a bucket full of cooked meat meant for mourners at the funeral. The late Susan Tsvangirai died in a car crash in March last year.

The disgraced deputy mayor was sacked for plunging the image of the council and his MDC party in disrepute.

Mukorera was replaced by Itai Masaka, another MDC official from Mutare.

But Chombo last month ordered Mukorera’s reinstatement saying he had been unfairly dismissed. A full council meeting sitting at Mutare Civic Centre last week, however, resolved that Mukorera should not be reinstated – setting the stage for yet another confrontation between the controversial Chombo and a local government authority.

“You don’t bring party issues to the council. The way he was demoted was not procedural. It was a party issue. I will make sure that justice prevails,” Chombo said. But Mutare City Fathers maintain Mukorera’s actions were too disgraceful to go unpunished.

“No-one can support someone who stole food meant for mourners. It’s immoral. It’s not our culture,” councilor Tatenda Nhamarare argued.

When he was relieved of his mayoral job, Mukorera filed an application with the High Court opposing council action.

Mutare Mayor Brain James was not available for comment.

His deputy Masaka however referred NewsDay to George Jerison, the MDC Chief Whip in council.

Jerison confirmed council decision and said: “Councilors voted Mukorera as Deputy Mayor on 24 July 2008. As councilors we have the powers to overturn that decision.”