Mutare mayor jumps ship

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Mutare mayor Brian James has reportedly stormed out of the tumultuous MDC-T-run local authority citing disharmony and poor working relations with his peers.

In a letter dated December 2011, copied to Mutare town clerk Obert Muzawazi, James advised fellow councillors on his intention to go on “leave of absence” between December and April to allow for the councillors and management to mend their frosty relations.

The letter was expected to be read out at a special council meeting on Thursday last week, but the meeting was aborted after councillors failed to constitute a quorum.Councillors are now expected to meet this Thursday to debate the issue.

Part of the letter read: “This decision had been precipitated by recent events revolving around the city’s finances and audits. A recent telephone call with you indicating that the audit of Pungwe Breweries should be delayed has made me realise that both management and councillors are not serious about auditing council affairs expeditiously.

“. . . This confirms lack of financial responsibility that exists within council’s corridors. I have committed myself tirelessly to improve the image of council and to regain the confidence of residents and ratepayers alike, and now find it increasingly difficult to defend what I consider to be wanton disrespect of financial good governance.”

Although James could not be reached for comment yesterday, some councillors accused him of “jumping ship” when he was needed most.

“We are in a financial crisis and someone who should steer us through opts out. I find it ridiculous. He should stop the blame game and come back to work as the elected mayor,” said a councillor who declined to be named.

“This type of behaviour will also affect our service delivery and soon the residents will be at our throats if we reverse the ground we gained in addressing the quandary we inherited from the Zanu PF-led council.”

To date, Mutare City Council has not yet submitted its proposed budget for 2012 as councillors and management have not agreed on its structure.