Zanu PF yesterday admitted it was powerless to stop the Bulawayo City Council from giving Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai the Freedom of the City civic honour, but accused the MDC-T-dominated council of failing to rise above politics.
Report by Nduduzo Tshuma
Council is considering a motion to grant Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo the prestigious award.
Deputy mayor Amen Mpofu two weeks ago moved the motion, saying the three MDC-T leaders deserved the honour for serving the city and the country with distinction.
But the proposal, which is yet to be approved by councillors, has already touched a storm, with critics arguing that the three did not deserve the highest recognition the local authority can give to an individual.
Zanu PF politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu described the proposed bestowment of the award as a “shameful” attempt to prop up Tsvangirai ahead of elections this year.
“I have always respected the city council for their good work, but I should emphasise that when you give such honours, you must not be partisan. It should be given objectively,” he said.
“It’s sad that the city council failed to honour the late Vice-President John Nkomo yet he contributed so much to this city.
“We cannot use the whole city to campaign for a political party. Have those people done anything for the city?
“I do not hate Tsvangirai, but what I see is that the Bulawayo City Council is trying to prop an image that he does not have.
“They are campaigning for elections.
“It is a shameful thing to do, but the city council is autonomous by virtue of its statutes and by-laws.
“Only the (Local Government) minister can give guidance, we do not want to politicise the process. When Zanu PF was still in council, we did not do these things on partisan lines.”
However, Mpofu yesterday defended the motion, saying it was every councillor’s right to make such proposals.
“Our term of office is ending soon and I won’t be seeking re-election, so I do not see how I can be accused of campaigning,” he said.
“This has nothing to do with the coming elections, but I wrote the motion because I believe they deserve to be honoured.
“It is selfish for Zanu PF to make these accusations because the people they honoured like President Robert Mugabe, the two late Vice-Presidents (Joshua Nkomo and Joseph Msika) were all from their party.”
Mpofu said the matter was yet to be discussed by the relevant council committee before it is tabled at a full council meeting.
“The committee should look at the motion early May and after that the matter would be tabled before a full council meeting,” he said.