Estranged Mutare mayor returns to work

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Barely a week after the mayor of Mutare left office owing to frosty working relations with fellow councillors and management, Brian James has made a dramatic return to work.

On December 29 last year, James announced he was leaving office following an aborted, but potentially explosive special council meeting cancelled due to lack of quorum.

However, on Thursday, James had a change of heart, saying fellow councillors had pleaded with him to come back.

“Councillors have requested me to stay on board and I have agreed to do that. I hope to steer this council in this time of financial difficulties,” he said.

Upon his temporary departure which sent tongues wagging in the eastern border city, James said he was getting increasingly disappointed by the level of corruption within council corridors.

The mayor said he was not pleased with the way council finances were being handled, coupled with the continued refusal by councillors and management to audit the city’s finances.

Meanwhile suspended councillor, Exavia Upare, who was shown the door on December 15 last year by Local Government Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo for his alleged role in the deal that saw Mutare losing $330 000, is set to return.

This follows withdraw of charges against him by the State.

He was alleged to have received $20 000 as bribe money to award a tender to a “briefcase” company that later swindled the city of $330 000.

“Since his suspension was purely on the grounds that he was facing criminal charges and since these charges have fallen away, it follows by operation of logic and law that our client’s suspension ought to fall away,” wrote his lawyer Chris Ndlovu to minister Chombo.