Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has defended his controversial appointment of an ex-convict as a special interest councillor saying one of the elected MDC-T councillors was also an ex-convict.
Chombo said this in an interview with NewsDay in which he sought to trash complaints raised by Harare residents over the appointment of Charles Nyachowe as a special interest councillor.
Nyachowe was convicted of fraud in 1995 and therefore not fit for public office.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) wrote to Chombo last week questioning his appointment of “a fraudster” and charging it was a ploy by the minister to accommodate criminal elements in Zanu PF who did not qualify to stand for elections.
“Nyachowe is a convicted fraudster,” wrote the residents. “You owe Harare residents an explanation as to the reasons behind his appointment. Which interests does he represent?”
The letter was signed by CHRA chairperson Simbarashe Moyo.
“After completing his prison term, Nyachowe was again convicted of public violence in 2003 and he got a suspended prison term as a result,” read the letter.
But Chombo said if they wanted to bring that out, Mt Pleasant councillor Warship Dumba would also have to be removed from office because he was also convicted many years ago.
“He (Nyachowe) served his prison term and it’s a thing of the past and to try and bring it up today is politicking by CHRA,” he said.
Chombo has been on a collision course with MDC-T councillors whom he described as “shallow and unable to do business without the assistance of special interest councillors”.
“Nyachowe is a renowned businessperson despite his past. One of the councillors I appointed is a lawyer with vast experience in local governance as he served in the commission that once ran the affairs of the city. In the case of Moosa Harif Allana of Elite Car Hire, he is a renowned accountant with vast experience in the field,” he said.
The minister also defended other special interest councillors saying they were esteemed individuals in their areas. He said the councillors he appointed for Harare had done very well to help “ignorant elected councillors.”
“You can only ignore the ‘special interest’ councillors at your own peril like they (elected councillors) did on the human resources audit,” said Chombo.
Chombo said service delivery was suffering as a result of the behaviour by the councillors who were allegedly pursuing irrelevant agendas.
“Dumba’s case was a fracas or misunderstanding with border officials as I am made to understand and he was never arrested. Dumba was democratically elected meaning he qualified to stand for election as he had no case to answer and neither is he a convict but Chombo’s choice of a criminal to represent Harare residents is by itself an insult,” Moyo said.
Recently the only Zanu PF councillor in Harare admitted during a full council meeting that all special interest councillors were Zanu PF activists and had direct access to the minister.