Bulawayo councillors have shot down a spirited campaign by the city’s deputy mayor Amen Mpofu to confer Freedom of the City status on Vice-President John Nkomo.
According to the agenda of last night’s full council meeting, Mpofu moved a motion in April under the heading “Council calendar no longer followed” where he sought to have Nkomo honoured in line with council’s 2010 resolution.
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.
In a hard-hitting council motion, Mpofu accused his MDC-T counterparts of abandoning long-standing procedures, which he said had “never happened before”.
Zanu PF, which previously controlled the municipality regularly, conferred eminent citizens with honours at the end of each year.
“Council needs to seriously consider the way things are done of late,” Mpofu said.
“We appear to be ignoring very important things on our calendar and this never happened before.
“Is it that most (of the) top management team is new? Is it that most councillors are new? Is it because of financial constraints?
“The answer I am getting is no, a big NO. Council has abandoned a very important event on our calendar, (the) Annual Mayoral Review.
“This is the time when residents of Bulawayo are updated about council opportunities and difficulties we face as a council.
“Civic honours is also our calendar event and not the same thing as Freedom of the City.
“Freedom of the City used to be done separately and not yearly. Civic honours was done every year together with the Mayor’s Annual Review. Names were recommended and approved by council, but those people have not been honoured because of fear of the Freedom of the City issue. If council decided not to give the Freedom of the City to a person they had chosen before, council must not deprive those who were chosen to get civic honours.”
According to the report, chamber secretary Sikhangezile Zhou said the municipality agreed to honour Nkomo “on December 3, 2010, but (the ceremony) was postponed indefinitely due to circumstances beyond council’s control, which was consultations between the mayor (Thaba Moyo) and his political party (MDC-T)”.
Several councillors said Mpofu’s motion “should be withdrawn as the issues involved had already been adequately addressed by council”.
Subsequently, council recommended that “the mayoral review ceremony (excluding civic honours and Freedom of the City which were shelved indefinitely) be held as appropriate each municipal year”.
The matter was scheduled to be debated at the full council meeting last night.