via Chombo backs MDC mayor – DailyNews Live 13 February 2015 by Gift Phiri
HARARE – In a surprising development, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has endorsed Bulawayo’s opposition MDC mayor Martin Moyo to be the new Zimbabwe Local Government Association (Zilga) chairman, a move that has courted the ire of the association’s Zanu PF members.
There were suggestions within Zilga’s Zanu PF caucus yesterday that the move was playing out along the ruling party’s ugly factional and succession wars of the past few months, with other sources saying that it may be a desperate bid by government to attract donor support to the country.
Zilga is an association of mayors and other local government leaders, whose mission includes promoting local government and its role in development and the provision of services.
While repeated efforts by the Daily News to talk to Chombo yesterday did not yield positive results, disgruntled Zanu PF Chombo backs MDC mayor.
Zilga members claimed that the newly-installed ruling party secretary for administration was meddling in the association’s business by voicing his support for Moyo — a move they said was outside the minister’s brief.
The minister, who has invited all district chairpersons and mayors for a crucial meeting scheduled for the Rainbow Towers in Harare today, apparently worked throughout the week to build support for the opposition mayor of Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
However, it is still not clear if Moyo, a close confidant of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, will secure the necessary votes to sail through unopposed at the Zilga ballot, which Chombo wants held before March 1.
Zanu PF has a majority 79 chairpersons and mayors countrywide in the 92-member strong Zilga.
“The disquiet highlights the broader split in the ruling party. Chombo has been persuading the Zanu PF chairpersons to back Moyo, and has told the chairpersons that to him the Bulawayo mayor was unchallenged and has virtually locked up that race.
“Ahead of this weekend’s meeting, the minister has been focused on the chairman’s nomination, and has been calling chairpersons and mayors, rounding up and even strong-arming them to back the Bulawayo MDC mayor, ostensibly because he is appealing to donors, mainly Germans, who can help unlock cash to bankroll the financially-troubled Zilga,” a well-placed source said yesterday.
Chombo had allegedly first met the chairpersons and mayors behind closed doors at a meeting held in Bulawayo last week. Assuming each chairperson and mayor in the 92-member conference participates, a candidate needs at least 46 votes for victory, although Chombo is said to want Moyo to stand unopposed.
The victorious leader will wield significant power in terms of the direction and tenor Zilga will take over the next three years.
That dynamic has frustrated many Zanu PF chairpersons and mayors given that the MDC has only 13 mayors in the 92-strong bloc.
“Chombo is raising fundraising arguments and is keen to build support from ambivalent Zanu PF chairpersons and mayors.
“He is also pledging to ensure a deputy Zilga chairman from Zanu PF.
He is proposing installing Alderman David Mutasa from Makoni as Moyo’s deputy,” another source added.
Chombo’s support of Moyo also comes as the minister is allegedly stitching a deal to introduce Easipark in Bulawayo.
The source said the disgruntled Zanu PF chairpersons were “working the phones” in a bid to derail Chombo’s plans.
“For now, the minister’s plan is short of critical votes, and his strategy risks hitting a brick-wall.
“In practice, democracy is governed by its most popularly understood principle, that is majority rule,” said another unhappy Zanu PF chairperson.
“The side with the most votes must win, and we are surprised why Combo wants us to back an MDC candidate. Many fear opposing him but certainly there is disquiet over this,” he added.
Another disgruntled chairman said, “Why doesn’t Chombo go with his proposal to president Mugabe that we must support an MDC mayor? What is he trying to do? Kutengesa ikoko. (He is a sell-out)”.