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Chombo on warpath

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Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday said almost all local authorities in the country were rotten and purging of those found on the wrong side of the Urban Councils Act would not end until councillors abided by the law.

The shamed local authorities include Chinhoyi, Mutare, Harare, Chitungwiza and a few Zanu PF-run councils, where he has fired councillors for alleged corruption.

In an interview, Chombo said he was acting to protect residents.

I am constrained; I am doing it because they are going too far. Its like a fundraising venture in the councils and its like these councillors are stampeding to be corrupt.

I have witnessed so much corruption in the last three years (the MDC-T councillors have been in power) than I have seen in the last 30 years (when Zanu PF was in control), he said.

Chombo said Mutare Mayor Brian James should have been fired after his fellow MDC-T councillors reportedly complained about him.

In Mutare, a councillor stole $300 000 and he was arrested. We traced that the items he claimed were going for $300 000 were less than that. There have been a lot of things happening, too many to mention.

(Suspended Mutare mayor) James used to pay a white woman he was employing in council without the councils consent. First and foremost, I will not put any commission to run local authorities. Only councillors who remain without infringing the Urban Councils Act will survive, but thats not the intention to fire everyone.

He said he had since set up a team to investigate the allegations and make recommendations on the way forward.

If James was found guilty, the minister said he would suspend him but the mayor was free to seek recourse.

Chombo justified his action on Chitungwiza Town Council, saying: In Chitungwiza, we have fired an official and other councillors. I think an official has been fired and I have told councillors that I am empowered by the law to fire them and they are empowered to fire the officials.

He also blasted his deputy Sessel Zvidzai, who recently said the minister harboured intentions to fire all MDC-T mayors and replace them with his own appointees.

The complaints by Zvidzai are preposterous and unfounded. He (James) has been suspended because he committed so many offences and paid for unsanctioned things.

This was brought to me by MDC-T councillors who were quite unhappy with his behaviour, said Chombo

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