Councillors from Mutare were this week summoned to the MDC-T headquarters in Harare and cautioned amid charges they were undermining the office of the city’s mayor councillor Brian James.
The councillors were allegedly holding council meetings without the knowledge of the mayor and refusing to take orders from him.
The mayor is recently said to have threatened to resign after the councillors had overridden him on the appointment of a substantive director of finance.
Sources at the civic centre in Mutare said James complained to the MDC-T leadership in Harare about the behaviour of the councillors.
The councillors were also resisting orders from the mayor to carry out a land audit in the city.
This culminated in the MDC-T leadership summoning the city fathers to Harvest House to explain their actions.
Councillors yesterday said they were cautioned and told to respect James as the city’s mayor.
“The mayor has become so powerless because councillors do not respect him at all,” said one council source. “They disregard whatever he says. Right now they have refused to conduct a land audit and they have appointed Lloyd Musasa as substantive director of finance against the mayor’s wishes.”
Musasa’s appointment was made at a full council meeting held yesterday at the civic centre.
Sesel Zvidzai, the MDC-T secretary for local government and also deputy minister of local government, yesterday played down the matter.
“Generally as a local government committee of the MDC-T we invite our councillors to give reports from their councils,” Zvidzai said. “We had never met Mutare councillors. They were happy that in terms of revenue collection they are doing well at 72%. The city is clean.”
Asked about accusations that the councillors were not respecting the mayor Zvidzai said: “That (James is the Mutare mayor) is given. They elected the mayor themselves. It is their product. What that means is that they have a lot of respect for him. How can I direct them to respect a person they elected on their own?”
He said if councillors in Mutare were holding meetings without the knowledge of the mayor “they were up to mischief”.
“We want to say it through you that they should respect the mayor,” he said.