CHINHOYI — The entire 15-member Chinhoyi Town Council faces dismissal after it resolved to defy yet another directive from Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, who last week handed them a final warning for refusing to take orders from his office.
Chombo suspended Mayor Claudius Nyamhondoro after the council twice blocked the awarding of a $2,9 million sewer system overhaul project to the winning bidder, Destiny Ventures, citing the engineering firm’s poor workmanship in a water reticulation system rehabilitation contract it was awarded by the local authority last year.
The minister on December 6 wrote to council, ordering it to rescind the decision to award another company, GEC, but councillors argued Chombo’s directive came late as an award had already been communicated to the bidder.
The impasse between the council and parent ministry resulted in the mayor’s suspension and subsequent appointment of Makonde district administrator Webster Tembo as acting town clerk, replacing Abel Gotora, who was doubling as chamber secretary.
Chombo ordered Gotora to revert to his substantive post.
A special full council meeting held on Tuesday resolved to disregard Chombo’s decrees, with Deputy Mayor Willie Nyambi maintaining Nyamhondoro was still the mayor and that councillors did not recognise Tembo’s appointment as acting town clerk.
“According to us, Chombo’s letter of suspension to the mayor is of no substance and effect. Nyamhondoro is still the mayor.
Also according to the Urban Councils Act, the chamber secretary assumes the role of acting town clerk therefore we do not recognise Tembo.
Regarding the ministerial order to rescind our award, we stick to our guns unless Chombo wants us to overturn everything we have done since taking office,” said Nyambi.
Nyamhondoro’s suspension is likely to pave way for a full probe into the local authority’s operations which are mired in controversy that also saw the mayor suspending town clerk Ezekiel Muringani in July.
Nyamhondoro told NewsDay he was consulting relevant stakeholders before deciding his next course of action.
“Yes, I have been served with the letter of suspension and I am currently consulting people who have a stake in this matter to advise me accordingly,” he said.