LOCAL Government, Urban and Rural Development minister Ignatius Chombo has lined up four senior Gwanda Town Council officials to testify against suspended mayor Lionel De Necker, it emerged yesterday.
Report by Nqobile Bhebhe
Chombo suspended De Necker in April for allegedly refusing to appoint Priscilla Nkala — believed to be a Zanu PF symphathiser — as the town’s chamber secretary.
A schedule of witnesses seen by NewsDay includes town clerk Gilbert Mlilo, acting chamber secretary an X Dube, director of housing one Nhlongwa and committee officer, Nkala, who is at the centre of the dispute.
The schedule was prepared and signed in Harare on December 7 by one C Mavhondo, identified as a prosecutor.
It reads in part: “In order to prove the claim against the respondent (De Necker) the claimant will call the following witnesses who will say what is stated herein, as follows . . .”
Mlilo is expected to testify that “council received a ministerial directive in February 2012, which directive was directed to the mayor requiring him or cause council to rescind the resolution not to appoint Nkala and appoint her as Chamber Secretary.
“He will tell the committee that the letter was tabled for council adoption and the mayor was strongly against adopting the directive.”
The schedule further says Mlilo will state that “the mayor’s stance was not surprising as he had made a lot of noise before against appointing Nkala”.
He will tell the hearing that “it was a clear case of inconsistence and mismanagement on the part of the mayor given that he had allowed the council to accept Nkala and recommend her for additional interview, yet he later made a U-turn and alleged that Nkala was not a proper candidate”.
Further, Mlilo would indicate that De Necker’s “action in defying a ministerial directive is greatly damaging to council’s corporate social image”.
“Staff management became poor as only one substantive head of department is in office leading to poor service delivery.Clearly the concept of gender balancing is not being embraced in council.”
“This is tantamount to discrimination against women.”
The second witness, Dube, according to the schedule is set to tell the hearing that he is struggling to cope with his new role as acting chamber secretary.
“He will state that he believed he was only going to be acting for a short time when he accepted the position . . . will further state that he left his post of treasurer, but he still has to assist the acting treasurer thereby making it very difficult for him
to be focusing on his newposition which is not his area of specialty,” reads part of schedule.
Dube claims that De Necker “was the most vocal one among other councillors in opposing the appointment of Nkala whom he said was not fit and skilled for the post leading to further postponements of the issue in council meetings”.
Nhlongwa, listed as the only remaining substantive head of a department, is set to allege that the non-appointment of the chamber secretary is fuelling operational problems as both the treasury department and chamber secretary department “are on their toes”.
“Some projects could not be completed due to the lack of experienced heads of departments.”
“The suppression of women in taking up higher posts is-still being perpetrated in councils.”
On her part, Nkala will state that she underwent internal council interviews, was recommended by council for the post which led her to be interviewed by the Local Government Board (LGB).
“She will state that she was ultimately selected by LGB as the first candidate, but council through the leadership of the mayor, turned down the outcome in their council meetings.”
“As an employee, she was frustrated since her dreams were shattered and as a woman she feels that her rights were trampled upon through male domination and discrimination.”