The ceremony to grant Vice-President John Nkomo the freedom of the city by Bulawayo City Council has reportedly been called off indefinitely following pressure from senior MDC-T officials from Matabeleland on council not to proceed with the event.
Council sources disclosed that MDC –T MPs in the city said the timing of giving Nkomo the honour was wrong.
The conferment was scheduled to be held at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo on December 2 but the council announced on November 29 the event was no longer proceeding according to plan because of logistical problems.
The MDC-T-dominated council last month resolved to grant Nkomo the freedom of the city. However, after the announcement by council to grant Nkomo the award, Bulawayo Mayor Thaba Moyo reportedly came under pressure from MDC-T colleagues from Matabeleland advising him against holding the function.
Moyo on Thursday declined to comment on the matter.
“I have no comment to make on that. Why don’t you go back to your sources and they will tell you everything on the matter?” said Moyo.
“If the party did not intervene in the nomination process, then why should it now?”
According to councillors, senior MDC-T officials called Moyo on December 2 and applied pressure on him to call off the event.
It also emerged that former Bulawayo Mayor and Zanu PF politburo member, Joshua Malinga, had also been initially nominated to receive a civic award but was struck off at the last minute before the announcement.
“Everything had been put in place by Monday but the Mayor came under pressure from within the party saying the move was a blunder and had to be called off,” said a councillor who refused to be named.
“The senior MDC-T party officials argued that Nkomo had made statements attacking the Global Political Agreement and the MDC-T. An example was cited on an event in Esigodini where Nkomo described the GPA as a serious political blunder.”
The councillor said the event would not be held anytime soon.
“The senior officials felt that the timing was just too wrong. They also argued that Governors from Zanu PF would attend the ceremony yet the party did not recognise them,” said the councillor.
“The Mayor was so stressed about the issue but he was powerless. The powers had spoken so he had no choice but to oblige so that is how the event was cancelled. It was not because of logistical problems because everything had been set but senior party officials felt that the timing was not right.”
Another councillor expressed disappointment at the developments saying the party was now dictating things in the council.
“When nominations were done, the councillors were in charge of the process without supervision from the party but after the announcements senior party officials intervened and called for the suspension of the ceremony,” said the councillor.