Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s axe is once again about to fall on seven more Harare councillors who are alleged to have gone on an unsanctioned trip to Durban, South Africa, last year, NewsDay has learnt.
Authoritative sources told NewsDay yesterday that Chombo was said to have made a call from Malaysia where he is believed to be on holiday ordering an investigation into the matter.
Sources within the ministry confirmed the order (by Chombo) for investigations to commence.
Councillors yesterday said Chombo made his intentions clear in Bulawayo recently that he was going to suspend councillors who went to Durban without Cabinet authority.
It is alleged a South African investor footed the expenses of the trip.
Contacted for comment, councillor Wellington Chikombo, who chairs the business committee, refused to shed light on the matter.
However sources in the committee said the axe was imminent and they feared the worst as soon as Chombo returned.
“Chombo made his intentions clear when he met members of the environment committee in Bulawayo that he was going to suspend us,” said one of the councillors who travelled to Durban.
“Considering the rate at which Chombo is firing councillors, we are living in fear and it seems we will be suspended.”
Chikombo however said council sanctioned the trip and the expenses were met by an investor.
“We applied to government for that trip but the government responded saying only myself as the chairperson of the committee should go. However, the town clerk (Tendai Mahachi) said he would speak to the government about that and he allowed the councillors to go,” he said.
It is alleged two members of the business committee, Charity Bango and Chikombo, were the main targets of the investigations.
Councillors said Bango was targeted for making a report urging investigation of Chombo on allegations of acquiring vast tracts of land belonging to the city while Chikombo was targeted as he was vocal in the “chambers”.
Council is apparently “crippled” as Chombo has so far fired four councillors who were found guilty of illegally evicting tenants from council houses.
Only last month, Chombo suspended two members of the ad hoc land investigating committee over allegations of “dishonesty”.
Another councillor for Mbare, Paul Gorekore, was also suspended for alleged corruption and abuse of power.
Councillors who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity said they had now been rendered ineffective by Chombo and the rate at which he was “creating issues” to deal with them was worrying.
Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda last week said what Chombo was doing was “unprofessional and suspicious”.
“The conclusion that people will make is that the two councillors are being punished for being part of the ad hoc land investigating committee.
Residents will be excused for thinking they are being victimised,” Masunda said.
Chombo however remain adamant that what he was doing within Harare and other councils around the country was above board as he wanted to instil discipline.