PARLIAMENT should investigate Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s way of handling corruption cases involving councillors and their subsequent dismissal in the last five years, a parliamentary committee has said.
Report by Moses Matenga
The committee on local government, wants Chombo to explain the reason why he reportedly passed biased judgments on several councillors around the country.
The chairperson of the committee Lynette Karenyi said a report by her committee highlighted several discrepancies including the firing of councillors exonerated by the courts, appointment of special interest councillors and commissions to probe councillors.
“We put a report to parliament, and it’s a detailed complaint to the minister that he should put his house in order. We highlighted that some councillors that he dismissed from council were acquitted and we raised the issue of special interest councillors who claimed they come from all political parties yet we realized most of them were Zanu PF,” Karenyi said.
According to the committee’s findings, Chombo defied a court ruling to reinstate fired councillors after the courts exonerated them of any wrongdoing.
“In the case of (Harare) councillor (Sulas) Machetu and others, your committee observed that the minister dismissed them despite the court judgment exonerating them of any wrongdoing. The High Court in its judgment HC 1067 of 2011, ordered their reinstatement citing the decision to dismiss them as grossly unreasonable,” read the committee report in part.
“Your committee wondered why the minister applied the law selectively in view of the fact that the court had set aside the dismissal of these councillors and at the same time the minister pardoned others who had committed similar offences.”
According to the report, most of the special interest councillors appointed by Chombo were Zanu PF loyalists with some of them central committee members and others, party officials who lost to the MDC-T in the 2008 elections.
“He admitted that and said if we want, we could bring other players. We wanted transparency. Even on the issue of commissions, the people he chooses are employed by government and they get double salaries from the commissions and government like in Chitungwiza for example,” Karenyi said.
The report recommended that the minister be professional in the administration of local government by ensuring that the law was not applied selectively (and) that those acquitted by the courts be reinstated immediately.