Local Government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere today suspended all the 16 Gweru councillors including mayor Hamutendi kombayi and his deputy Artwell Matyorauta.
Out of these, 13 belong to MDC-T while three are Zanu (PF). It is the first time in Gweru that any minister has ever made such a move since 1980. A fortnight ago, Kasukuwere expelled two MDC-T councillors- Moses Marecha (Ward 5) and Albert Chirau (Ward 11).
The development means that the country’s third largest city no longer has representative leaders at town house who are policy makers entitled with passing critical resolutions. The management led by Town Clerk Daniel Matawu will now run the city affairs alone but will be limited on making key decisions that require council resolutions as spelt out by the Urban Councils Act.
In suspending all the councillors, Kasukuwere accused them of incompetence among other allegations.
“Pursuant to the investigations carried out at Gweru City Council which revealed your involvement in gross mismanagement, gross misconduct, incompetence in connection with council funds and affairs, I hereby in terms of Section 114 (1) (c), (d) and (i) (ii) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) hereby suspend you from being a councillor of Gweru City Council with immediate effect,” reads part of the uniform suspension letters distributed to the councillors this afternoon. The letters are dated August 12 2015.
Kasukuwere also froze the affected councilors’ allowances.
“During the period of your suspension, you shall not conduct any council business within and outside council premises and you shall not be eligible to receive any form of remuneration from the Council,” he wrote.
MDC-T Midlands South provincial spokesperson, Munyaradzi Mutandavari, lamented the development and said its not surprising because Kasukuwere who is also the Zanu (PF) commissar, declared a couple of months back that he will target all MDC-T run councils.
“Kasukuwere said he is going to target all the MDC-T run councils with a view of handing them over to the control of Zanu (PF). He is the party’s commissar and so he will be doing his job. It is however the last kicks of a dying horse. We will consult the MDC-T national executive on the way forward,” he said.
The spokesperson added that the move to include three of the Zanu (PF) councillors on those suspended is just a “political scheme by the desperate party to hide its heinous agenda.”
“The agenda is just to target our MDC-T councilors. The Zanu (PF) councillors who have been affected were just sacrificed for the bigger agenda,” he said.
If Kasukuwere goes on to subsequently expel the councilors after the suspensions, the law provides that there be by-elections to fill the vacant seats.