BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/NKOSENTSHA KHUMALO
LOCAL Government minister July Moyo and the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have collided after Moyo blocked newly-elected councillors from voting out sitting mayors linked to the MDC Alliance and Zanu PF.
In a letter dated April 22, Moyo directed provincial ministers and officials in his ministry to stop any plots to pass a votes of no-confidence against sitting Zanu PF and MDC Alliance mayors and their deputies, saying they could only be expelled through tribunals.
“As I congratulate the new councillors who have been elected, may I take this opportunity to remind the councils that this was not a general election and, as such, the sitting mayors, deputy mayors, chairpersons of committees and their deputies remain as constituted prior to the by-elections,” he wrote.
“In terms of section 114 of the Local Government Laws Amendment Act number 8 of 2016, a mayor, deputy mayor or councillor can only be removed from his position through an independent tribunal or through section 129 of the Constitution. You are, therefore, advised that your councils cannot reconstitute the leadership architecture in place unless there is a vacancy.”
In Bulawayo, CCC councillors held a meeting recently after their re-election and resolved to oust mayor Solomon Mguni, who is a member of the MDC Alliance.
The directive has left CCC fuming, with the party’s secretary for local government Jacob Mafume accusing Moyo of interfering in the operations of opposition-led councils.
The suspended Harare mayor said CCC councillors were being prevented from executing their duties.
“We understand that the Minister of Local Government is desperate to punish the urban populations for voting against Zanu PF. We know he has a mandate to exercise extreme cruelty to the residents of the cities. He is exercising it in a crude fashion,” Mafume told journalists at a Press conference in Harare yesterday.
“They want to deliver on services, but you then say they must sit there, you say they must not be put in committees, they must not change the committee, they must come in and become spectators.”
Moyo was not responding to his mobile phone when reached for comment.
In 2020, residents under the Harare Metropolitan and Residents Forum dragged Moyo to the High Court, accusing him of interference and micromanaging affairs of Harare City Council (HCC) by issuing directives.
Mafume said Moyo should leave councils to run their own operations and deliver better service delivery, vowing that the CCC-led councils would ignore the minister’s directives.
“We cannot do that (follow directives). We will not do that. We will instruct all our local governments to ignore this directive to the extent of its illegality,” he said.
“We are going to go to court on an urgent basis and we have to comply with the law and we are also going to instruct our councillors and our leadership to continue working so that if they are punished, they will be punished for working, they will re-constitute the leadership of council.”
Mafume also called on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to intervene and stop the minister from disrupting operations of elected councils.
“Parliament provides oversight on the Minister of Local Government, and must call an urgent parliamentary committee that investigates these unconstitutional and legal acts by the Ministry of Local Government,” he said.
“We are going to meet this challenge head on. It is a temporary challenge. We have option and we have the law on our side and we have the electorate on our side, which put us to deliver our particular mandate.”
Most of the opposition councillors, mayors and their deputies in urban areas were elected under MDC Alliance, then led by Nelson Chamisa.
However, Douglas Mwonzora later recalled several councillors and legislators linked to Chamisa after he seized control of the MDC-T and later claimed that the MDC Allaince name in the lead up to the March 26 by-elections.
Chamisa’s CCC won 75 out of the contested 122 council seats, Zanu PF won 47, while Mwonzora’s MDC Alliance failed to win a single seat.
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