via Mayoral elections: Revolt in MDC-T NewsDay by Staff Reporters September 17, 2013
MDC-T councillors in some urban local authorities brewed a shocker yesterday, dumping their party’s preferred mayoral candidates and, in some instances, electing Zanu PF councillors for the mayoral posts.
The act of apparent revolt and defiance of the party leadership resulted in ugly scenes of finger-pointing and name-calling in some towns as councillors accused each other of betrayal when the results of the secret ballot were announced.
Mayoral elections were held in all the country’s 92 local authorities yesterday. The polls, in which only elected councillors were eligible to vote or to be elected, also produced deputy mayors for cities and towns and chairpersons for rural district councils.
The elections took place after the swearing-in of the councillors who won in the harmonised elections.
The biggest shocker was in Redcliff, where the MDC-T —which boasts of a majority seven councillors against Zanu PF’s two — handed the mayoral post to Zanu PF’s Freddy Kapuya. The election saw Kapuya polling five votes against MDC-T’s Takura Chikwira’s four.
In Kwekwe, where a tightly-contested mayoral race was expected as both Zanu PF and MDC-T hold seven seats apiece, Matenda Madzoke of Zanu PF swept to power after polling eight votes against MDC-T’s Aaron Gwalazimba’s six.
Zanu PF councillors did not nominate a candidate for the deputy mayor’s post which was then contested between Weston Masiya and Aaron Sithole, both from the MDC-T.
Sithole won the race with nine votes ahead of Masiya’s five.
In Mutare, Zanu PF, which has a minority elected councillors of six against MDC-T’s 13, still got the deputy mayor’s post, meaning that MDC-T councillors voted for the Zanu PF councillor, Collen Mukwada, who beat MDC-T candidate Kudakwashe Chisango by 10 votes to nine.
There was commotion at Mutare Town House after the announcement of the results as MDC-T councillors accused each other of selling out.
For the mayor’s post, MDC-T’s officially preferred candidate, Thomas Nyamupanedengu, was beaten to the position by another MDC-T councillor, Tatenda Nhemaware, by 10 votes to nine, another indication that all 10 councillors defied their party directive to choose Nyamupanedengu.
The same scenario obtained in Gweru where the late businessman Patrick Kombayi’s son Hamutendi pipped the MDC-T’s first choice, trade unionist Charles Chikozho, to land the mayor’s post. The party’s official position was that Chikozho would take the mayoral post while Kombayi got the deputy position.
Contacted for comment yesterday, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “It’s a very strange development, but the number of councillors who have done that is not significant at all. However, it’s an act of indiscipline on the part of councillors to go against a party caucus decision.”
He, however, said the development was not anything new in Zimbabwean politics.
“Remember the election of the Speaker of Parliament in 2011. Some Zanu PF MPs voted for (MDC-T national chairperson Lovemore) Moyo,” Mwonzora said.
In Masvingo, MDC-T’s Hubert Fidze of Ward 6 was elected mayor after getting six votes against Zanu PF’s Lovemore Mufamba, who got four.
The deputy mayor becomes David Chiwara of MDC-T who garnered the same number of votes as the mayor.
In Harare, however, all the MDC-T’s 38 councillors rallied behind their party’s choice for mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, who beat Zanu PF’s Musatye Gwasira. The Zanu PF candidate got the maximum possible from his party’s seven councillors. The MDC-T had to settle for Manyenyeni after the party’s first choice, Obert Gutu, opted out after Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo insisted that only elected councillors were eligible for election.
Thomas Muzuva of the MDC-T becomes the deputy mayor, after also garnering the maximum possible 38 votes from his party.
In his acceptance speech, Manyenyeni, who holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Management and boasts of more than 20 years’ experience in the financial services sector, rallied his fellow councillors and council management to work as a team to turn around the city’s fortunes.
“The pressure is there, but we will consult widely and engage fully with the Local Government ministry and residents,” said Manyenyeni.
“Illegal settlements are not matters of choice, but of desperation and we will make sure in consultation with government that there is land available for the people,” said Manyenyeni before committing the future of the city into God’s hands.
In Bulawayo, the party’s favourite horse, academic Mandla Nyathi dropped out for the same legal reason and the party settled for Martin Moyo as the city mayor with former football administrator and businessperson Gift Banda being elected his deputy.
In Chitungwiza, councillor Phillip Mutoti was elected mayor. Again, MDC-T’s preferred choice, Isaac Manyemba, had to be dropped for the reason that he was not an elected councillor. Councillor Godwell Mushangwe, also of the MDC-T, becomes his deputy.
In Kadoma, MDC-T’s Muchineripi Chinyanganya won the mayoral race ahead of Zanu PF’s Langton Mabhanga after polling nine votes of the 17 votes available.
In Ruwa, MDC-T councillor Robson Mushayavanhu was elected chairperson and councillor Manyepudzo Mbira, from the same party, was elected deputy chairperson.
In Chegutu, MDC-T councillor Leo Gwanzura was elected mayor while Edias Ticharwa, also MDC-T, becomes his deputy.
Gwanda businessperson and cattle rancher Knowledge Ndlovu of Zanu PF was elected the new mayor of the town. Ndlovu (44), the councillor for Ward 3 Gwanda Urban, was elected unopposed. He will be deputised by Albert Ndlovu, also a Zanu PF councillor for Ward 10.
Twenty-four councillors, the majority of them from Zanu PF, were also sworn in for the Gwanda Rural District Council with Ward 12 councillor Johnson Mangwangwa Dube being elected chairperson while Joram Ndlovu, councillor for Ward 20, will deputise him.