OUTGOING Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo plans to block moves by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to allegedly impose unelected officials as mayors in Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza. MOSES MATENGA/WONAI MASVINGISE The MDC-T leader has endorsed former Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Obert Gutu and Isaac Manyemba’s secondment as designate mayors for Harare and Chitungwiza respectively. In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Chombo said the MDC-T was going against the law by forwarding unelected people to Town House, adding that councillors would reverse the decision at their first meeting. “Mayors are elected according to the new Constitution. They will choose from the committees in that council set up the day they first meet. The Provincial Administrator or the District Administrator will preside over those elections,” Chombo said. “It’s the MDC-T that changed the whole thing saying they should be no outsiders and that is now in the Constitution. You have to choose from the councillors elected in that area under jurisdiction. There is nothing ambiguous; it’s very clear. They contributed to that and now they can’t say chinja maitiro (change). It’s now the law and the law stands. They can do whatever they want, but the councillors will choose a mayor from among themselves when they meet and will do the same for the deputy mayors,” said Chombo. He said the MDC-T risked a similar revolt it faced in Chitungwiza in 2010 when the party imposed a candidate that was later rejected by the councillors. Already, Tsvangirai is reportedly under fire from his own councillors and residents who are accusing him of unilateralism. Former Chitungwiza councillor Jacob Rukweza and several other MDC-T officials accused Tsvangirai of misinterpreting provisions of the Urban Councils Act, especially on selection of mayors. “The MDC keeps talking about deploying mayors from outside the ranks of elected councillors without checking the legality of such action yet the new Constitution seems to suggest that this is no longer permissible,” said Rukweza. “The MDC has a whole choir of lawyers within its ranks (two of them in the standing committee of the party) who should make themselves useful by reading the new Constitution and advise the party accordingly.” However, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora yesterday insisted that the party’s interpretation of the law was correct. “We are a party of rules. We have to listen to the party leadership, in this instance, the national executive and the standing committee. No councillor has voiced their concern and they know the channels of communication. We expect discipline.” Lawyers yesterday gave conflicting interpretations of the Constitution on the issue. Law expert Tawanda Zhuwarara, however, said section 269 of the Constitution states that there shall be metropolitan provinces which include Harare and Bulawayo and each metropolitan council shall be headed by chairpersons who shall also be the mayors of the cities of Harare and Bulawayo. “What happens is in terms of section 272 subsection 1, at the first sitting after every general election, a provincial council must elect a chairperson from a list of at least two qualified persons submitted by a political party which gained the highest number of National Assembly seats in the province. This provision does not say anything on who those people are. The party is the one that provides two names and it shall go for a vote and whoever wins shall become the chairperson of that provincial council,” he said. Another law expert, Chris Mhike, said: “In the case of executive mayors and chairpersons, and in terms of section 274 of the Constitution, an Act of Parliament may confer executive powers on the mayor or chairperson of an urban local authority. But an executive mayor or executive chairperson must be elected directly by registered voters in the area for which the local authority has been established.” He said in case of a non-executive mayor, the mayor shall be the person preferred or elected by councillors of a subject local authority at the first sitting of the council following a general election. “In respect of non-executive mayors and chairpersons, there is no specific provision in the statutes on the need for the elected person to be one of the elected councillors. The requirement for the mayor or chairperson of a local authority to be an elected official relates only to executive office.”
newsday November 15, 2019
IT is disturbing to note the current developments in MDC Alliance whereby the internally organised violence is perpetually shifting away from the ...