Suspended Gweru councillors have fired back at Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, saying they are being punished for refusing to employ heads of departments in ten days, as well as scoffing at a directive to report progress to provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo’s office.
Speaking at a press conference held on Friday morning at Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi’s family-owned Midlands Hotel in Gweru, the city fathers said it would not surprise them if they are to be reinstated as soon as Kasukuwere employs his own party cadres as departmental heads.
“It is laughable that we were fired for, among other things, going for council-sanctioned trips, with a few councillors pocketing as little at $300 each when we were recently ordered to pay government investigators as much as $5000 for a few days’ work. We sense political skulduggery at play here,” said Kombayi.
He was flanked by councillors Tawanda Magidi and Kenneth Sithole on either side, while about ten other city fathers who included councillors Guduza, Mhondiwa, and Magara attended.
“Kasukuwere wants to make money with Gweru City Council. Where in this world have you ever seen a whole engineer being employed within ten days? Most of us have been sacrificing our resources to help council, such as refusing to eat lunch and dinner entitled to us after meetings for five months, yet we are labelled all sorts of names,” complained Councillor Sithole.
He also accused some nameless Zanu-PF top brass of ordering them to release parcels of land, a directive which they refused to implement as council.
“So you can see a lot has been happening in the background.”
In a statement, MDC-T Spokesperson Obert Gutu on Thursday said Kasukuwere had ‘unconstitutionally decimated operations of a whole town.’
“True to his political mandate to decimate the MDC in all urban areas ahead of the watershed 2018 harmonised elections, the newly appointed Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, has decimated operations of a whole town by unconstitutionally dismissing two MDC councillors and suspending 13 others in the Midlands City of Gweru,” said Gutu.
He added: “Section 278 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe makes it abundantly clear that elected councillors can only be dismissed after investigations by an independent tribunal, meaning the Minister no longer has powers to dismiss councillors.
“Section 114 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) is ultra vires the provisions of Section 278 (2) of the Constitution and as such, the Minister of Local Government cannot lawfully dismiss and/or suspend any elected local government official from office.”
Gutu said the opposition party would be urgently approaching the courts for reprieve.
“In the interim, our elected councillors will simply ignore their purported suspension and thus, remain in office.’