Council in Nkomo poser

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The MDC-T-controlled Bulawayo City Council is reportedly in a quandary over the aborted conferment of the Freedom of the City status on Vice-President John Nkomo, more than a year after it agreed to honour the Zanu PF second secretary.

It has also emerged that the confusion led to the indefinite postponement of the 2011 civic awards that are traditionally held at the end of each year.

In November 2010, council resolved to honour Nkomo, but the event was postponed at the last minute following alleged intervention by senior MDC-T officials in Matabeleland who were opposed to the move.

The conferment was scheduled to be held at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo on December 2, 2010.
But on November 29 last year, council said the event would no longer proceed according to plan because of logistical problems.

Besides Nkomo, former councillor Job Ndebele was also supposed to receive a civic award.

Council insiders yesterday told NewsDay the local authority was in a fix as it could not confer the civic award on Ndebele and leave out Nkomo.
“Chances are high that Nkomo will never be given that award,” said a council source.

“Council feels that Nkomo deserves the award for his role in the liberation struggle, but the parent party (MDC-T) is opposed to the move.”

Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo yesterday said the conferment of the awards had been postponed indefinitely.

“Both of them are still shelved, we will not do one and leave the other,” he said.

“The position is that it (the conferment) was postponed and a new date is yet to be set.”
Pressed to explain the cause of the hitch, Moyo said: “It was a council resolution.”

“If you revisit records, you will see that council resolved to postpone,” Moyo said.

Pressed to comment on whether they would bestow the honour on Nkomo, Moyo said: “I cannot say.”

But council insiders said the local authority felt embarrassed to honour Ndebele only and omit Nkomo.

“It is hard now for council to organise a function to confer Ndebele with the award and leave out Nkomo,” said the council source.

“No one has the guts to make formal communication to the Vice-President informing him of council’s U-turn on their decision to grant him the Freedom of the City award.”

Council sources said Zanu PF politburo member Joshua Teke Malinga, who is a former mayor of Bulawayo, had also been nominated for the award, but the idea was shot down by councillors.