Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo has suspended the mayor of Mutare, Brian James, from being both a councillor and mayor over allegations of misconduct, in a development likely to raise the ire of the MDC-T.
The suspension was dramatic and came with humiliation as the mayor had to be chucked out of office by security personnel and his belongings thrown out.
Chombo’s letter of suspension dated January 19 was also copied to Manicaland Governor Chris Mushowe and provincial administor Fungai Mbetsa. Reads part of Chombo’s letter: “Having cautioned you in a letter of Remedial Intervention, dated March 3 2010, reports of misconduct continue to come to my office implying that you are unrepentant.
This leaves me with no option other than to invoke Section 114 of the Urban Council’s Act Chapter 29.15, to suspend you from being a councillor (Ward 12) for Mutare City, with immediate effect.
“During this period of suspension, you shall not conduct any council business for, and on behalf of council, within or outside council premises and you shall not be eligible to receive any form of remuneration.”
The visibly angry mayor was evicted in an operation overseen by special councillor Esau Mupfumi of Zanu PF.
Scores of councillors, who refused to comment, looked helpless as their boss was being ejected. James also declined to say anything, preferring to meet his legal team first before issuing a statement.
However, former Mutare Mayor Misheck Kagurabadza blasted the suspension saying it was a ploy to destroy the MDC-T led council. “This is very bad for the residents of Mutare.
Under the guidance of James the city managed to achieve a lot and I fear that the gains obtained in these past years could go to waste. The Minister should stop interfering with council business because his conduct is retrogressive,” he said.
This is not the first time Chombo has descended on Mutare, which some say has been transformed into one of the cleanest cities in Zimbabwe, courtesy of the local authority.
Since James assumed stewardship in 2008, Mutare received many accolades which include two Cleanest City of the Year awards in 2010 and 2011.