Disgruntled mayors met in Harare on Thursday and resolved to petition Parliament to investigate Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo over allegations that he was interfering with the running of local authorities and abusing his powers.
Mayors from almost all cities and towns in Zimbabwe are members of the MDC-T party. They are irked by Chombo’s alleged open harassment and suspension of elected officials.
The mayors met under the banner of Democratic Councillors’ Forum (DemCoF) and made a resolution to approach Parliament to help them rein-in the minister.
They also called for the amendment of the Urban Councils Act which they said was draconian and gave Chombo “dictatorial powers”.
“Aware that serious malpractices and crimes were committed by Zanu PF in previous councils and noting Chombo’s widely known looting and asset stripping of council’s infinite resources, DemCoF resolve that Parliament moves a motion to investigate Chombo for abuse of public office as a matter of urgency and in the national interest,” said DemCof executive director, Last Maingahama.
The mayors especially expressed concern over Chombo’s alleged continued harassment, intimidation and suspension of councillors.
“We are worried that to date, Chombo has arbitrarily dismissed 11 of our councillors and suspended two in Harare. We are worried the move is meant to protect his vast interests and personal fortune by silencing dissenting voices.
“DemCoF resolved the affected councillors seek legal recourse against Chombo in his personal and professional capacity,” said Maingahama.
Thursday’s meeting came amid fresh reports of the minister’s meddling in local governance.
The meeting was a follow-up to a series of similar gatherings that took place during the last quarter of last year.
Maingahama, who was flanked by Sessel Zvidzai, Local Government deputy minister, said the decision to have Chombo investigated and his wings clipped was unanimous.
The Democratic Mayors’ Forum’s last year recommended a parliamentary inquiry into Chombo’s conduct arguing that delays were likely to see a total disruption of local authorities and Chombo and Zanu PF setting up new, unelected channels of governance.
MDC-T said in an earlier statement this week: “Since Zanu PF lost the 29 March 2008 elections, Chombo has sought to interfere with the running of local authorities, intimidating progressive and hard-working councils and dismissing councillors he dislikes under the selective cover of sections of the Urban Councils Act.
“In Harare, for instance, Chombo has so far unsuccessfully tried to frustrate a comprehensive probe into a string of land corruption scandals in which Zanu PF officials and him are deeply involved.”
Thursday’s meeting was attended by mayors from towns as far as Kariba, Chiredzi, Masvingo and Beitbridge.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangiri attended the previous Democratic Mayors’ Forum held last year.