THE BULAWAYO City Council has appointed caretaker councillors for wards that were left vacant after interim MDC president Thokozani Khupe recalled the office bearers for not showing allegiance to her faction.
In September, Khupe recalled eight Bulawayo councillors ― Tinashe Kambarami (ward 3), Concillia Mlalazi (ward 18), Earnest Rafamoyo (ward 20), Tinevimbo Maphosa (ward 21), Norman Hlabani (ward 26), Clayton Zana (ward 19), Donaldson Mabuto (ward 9) and Lillian Mlilo (ward 16).
The city also lost ward 8 councillor Ronniah Mudara, who passed away, bringing the total number of vacant posts to nine. By-elections were scheduled to be held in all the wards without councillors later this month but were postponed after Health minister Constantino Chiwenga issued a Statutory Instrument suspending all polls as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.
Chiwenga’s move was received with mixed feelings, with opposition parties claiming it was aimed at stifling democracy. On the other hand, the delay in filling the vacant posts attracted the wrath of residents, who felt the already inadequate service delivery in Bulawayo had plummeted to new lows.
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube yesterday confirmed that council had moved in to fill in the vacancies by appointing sitting councillors to double up in the wards without representatives.
“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.
“So, the council had no option because residents’ needs needed to be attended to and so, we appointed caretaker councillors,” Ncube told the Daily News.
“Normally, the criteria used were that a councillor for a neighbouring ward is the one who becomes a caretaker councillor. For instance, I will give you Njube-Lobengula where the councillor for ward 14 is now caretaker in ward 12, and the ward 13 councillor is now caretaker in ward 19.”