BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has appointed caretaker councillors to represent wards left vacant after MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe recalled a number of councillors for rebelling against her.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Khupe recalled over 32 MDC Alliance MPs and 165 councillors across the country after the March Supreme Court ruling that declared her interim leader of the opposition party.
In September, she recalled eight Bulawayo councillors; Tinashe Kambarami (ward 3), Concillia Mlalazi (ward 18), Ernest Rafamoyo (ward 20), Tinevimbo Maphosa (ward 21), Ald Norman Hlabani (ward 26), Ald Clayton Zana (ward 19), Donaldson Mabuto (ward 9) and Lillian Mlilo (ward 16).
By-elections were set for this month to fill the vacant posts but Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga issued a Statutory Instrument suspending the polls citing COVID-19 restrictions.
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube yesterday confirmed that council had replaced the recalled councillors with caretaker councillors to ensure representation to the affected constituencies. “As council, after what happened where some of our colleague councillors were recalled from council, it left the wards that were represented by those honourable members vacant. Council had no option because residents’ needs were supposed to be attended to. Council sat and appointed caretaker councillors,” Ncube said in a telephone interview.
“Normally, the criterion used was that; a councillor for a neighbouring ward is the one who becomes a caretaker councillor. For instance, I will cite Njube-Lobengula where the councillor for ward 14 is now caretaker in ward 12, and ward 13 councillor is now caretaker in ward 19.” MDC Alliance Bulawayo spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza blamed the courts for leaving the party in an invidious situation after delivering the judgment giving Khupe control of the opposition party.
“We believe the current circumstances we find ourselves in are a result of an iniquitous judgment by the courts of law. We believe that a different bench, some other time, would have come up with a different judgment,” Chirowodza said. Indications are that, more MDC Alliance members face recalls for refusing to recognise Khupe’s legitimacy, instilling fear in some Bulawayo councillors and legislators to force them to cross the floor. Khupe has been mandated to hold an extraordinary congress to elect a substantive leader after she won control of the opposition party formed in 1999.