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Govt handpicks Chitungwiza deputy mayor

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LOCAL Government minister July Moyo (pictured) has come under fire for unilaterally appointing a deputy mayor, Councillor Kiven Mutimbanyoka, in Chitungwiza, without notifying councillors in the dormitory town, bringing to light Zanu PF’s ploy to take over MDC Alliance-run local authorities.

AYESHA CHIDEMBO

This comes as councillors have dragged Moyo before the courts to nullify the deputy mayor’s appointment.

Fourteen MDC Alliance councillors have also written to Moyo demanding that the minister set aside the appointment and call for an election.

“We wish to place it on record, as we have done before, that we don’t recognise the appointment of Councillor Kiven Mutimbanyoka as the substantive deputy mayor. We are still waiting for his response to our petition. We persist that the appointment is illegal and any attempt to swear him in is unlawful.

“We shall therefore not sanitise or legitimise these illegal acts by attending the intended meeting, which, in our view, is a legal nullity. In any event, the purported meeting has not been called in terms of any recognised law. It is therefore a legal nullity,” the petition dated 15 October reads.

Further reads the letter: “Should you persist with the said meeting and swearing in, you can do so at your own peril. The unilateral appointment of the deputy mayor has triggered fears that Zanu PF is continuing to mutilate MDC Alliance-led councils after successfully suspending Harare mayor Jacob Mafume, while the Bulawayo council is also riddled with fissures, amid growing government interference.

“Councillor Kiven Mutimbanyoka was recently appointed to the position of deputy mayor, in contravention of council regulations, which stipulate that a deputy mayor is elected into office through a vote, with councillors saying they would not acknowledge his appointment.”

“Councillor Mutimbanyoka was illegally appointed to the position of deputy mayor by minister July Moyo. In this case, he was not voted for, but illegally appointed,’’ Councillor Peter Matiringe of ward 10 in Chitungwiza said.

Councillors say the unprocedural appointment of Mutimbanyoka raised questions as to why minister Moyo did not allow the full council, which is dominated by the MDC Alliance, to vote.

“We are now 20 councillors, instead of the establishment of 25. The minister must allow us to carry out our process of electing our preferred deputy mayor. The process must be democratic and transparent. He must be subjected to an ordinary process and, if he wins, we have no reason to disagree with the results coming from a legitimate exercise. This is called democracy: rule of the people, by the people and for the people and it’s what we all wish for,” Matiringe said.

Moyo appointed the deputy mayor after the council had failed to vote for a deputy mayor, after a vacancy notice was given on 18 August.

“The reason given by the minister is, as councillors we failed to elect a deputy mayor for too long.

“However, that assertion has its own limitations in that if the minister felt that we had taken too long to elect a deputy mayor, he should have directed council to hold the elections,’’ Matiringe told The NewsHawks.

“Minister July Moyo did not give us an opportunity to elect our own deputy mayor. we should have been accorded the chance after he had received communication of a vacancy from the acting town clerk on the 18th of August 2021,” Matiringe added.

According to the Urban Councils Act, upon the production of the certificate of vacancy, elections are supposed to be held within 30 days.

The law further stipulates that once the vacancy has not been filled within 30 days and by way of a resolution, then the minister may proceed to appoint.

However, the minister is limited to appointing a mayor in an acting capacity, not a substantive one.

“Now, in our case, the minister appointed a substantive deputy mayor, in complete violation of the dictates of the Act. Section 104[3] of the Urban Councils Act clearly states boundaries within which the minister may exercise his powers. In this case, there is abundant evidence of gross abuse of power and office,” he added.

After the certificate of vacancy was presented on 18 August, minister Moyo did not waste time and appointed the deputy mayor, barely a week later.

“The certificate of vacancy was presented to the minister on 18 August 2021 and, barely a week later, on 23 August 2021, the minister appointed his own deputy mayor. We are saying 30 days, not seven days, according to the Act,” Matingire added.

Councillors are calling for Moyo to immediately nullify Mutimbanyoka’s appointment and pave the way for a fresh vote.

“We would support Mutimbanyoka in his position if the process was followed and if he had won in elections; we are democratic outfit. In my personal view, I feel the appointment of councillor Mutimbanyoka to the position of deputy mayor is more of a political gesture. Zanu has only four councillors and common sense would have suggested everything be done according to a reasonable person’s expectations. We have challenged the process and have written to the minister telling him that we do not agree with him and very soon he will be dragged into some court processes, where he should defend and justify what we are calling the abuse of office,” councillor Matiringe said.

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