Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
BULAWAYO’S Ward 14 Councillor, Macdonald Chunga has reportedly not attended any council meeting since November last year which has resulted in the local authority withholding his designated monthly allowance.
The local authority has also since appointed a caretaker councillor to oversee his ward. Clr Chunga was also the caretaker councillor for ward 12, after the recalling of Clr Lilian Mlilo by her parent MDC-T party.
In terms of Section 78 of the Urban Councils Act, one ceases to be a councillor once they abscond from council meetings without leave for two consecutive months, in the event that they are on known leave they cease to be a councillor after failing to attend council meetings for six consecutive months.
“One ceases to be a councillor if (he/she) is absent without leave of the council — from the ordinary meetings of the council during a period of two consecutive calendar months or from the meetings of any committee of the council to which he has been appointed during a period of two consecutive calendar months. … or is absent from the ordinary meetings of the council during a period of six consecutive calendar months, whether or not leave of the council has been obtained,” reads part of the Act.
Clr Chunga has not attended any council meeting for the past eight months. According to a council confidential report ‘unconfirmed reports’ have suggested that the councillor was receiving medical treatment in South Africa for an undisclosed ailment.
“The chamber secretary (Mrs Sikhangele Zhou) reported that Clr Chunga last attended council meetings on 4 November 2020 and unconfirmed reports suggested that he was undergoing treatment in South Africa. Meanwhile, he had been a caretaker councillor for ward 12, both ward 12 and 14 had not had a councillor for almost six months.
“It was further advised that Clr Chunga had been absent from council duties and this had been continuous. The only thing that could be done was to only stop the allowances. Allowances were tied to sittings. The Act did not separate voluntary from involuntary absence,” reads the report.
The local authority on top of stripping Clr Chunga of his allowances have also appointed Clr Pilate Moyo to be the caretaker councillor in his ward (ward 14) while Clr Febbie Msipha has been appointed the caretaker councillor for ward 12.
In debating the matter councillors defended their colleague claiming Clr Chunga was away on treatment and not absent hence his allowance should not be scrapped.
“Alderman Siboniso Khumalo said that Clr Chunga was away on treatment and not absent. He felt that his allowance should not be terminated. His Worship the mayor, Clr Solomon Mguni pointed out that council could not continue paying if the councillor had not been attending meetings and this referred to all council meetings.
“The deputy mayor, Clr Mlandu Ncube said that the issue of allowances had to do with the conditions of service which lay with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
“He however, felt that there was need to get a clarification from the Ministry,” reads the report.