HARARE – Ignatius Chombo, minister of Local Government and Rural Development, has rejected the expulsion of rebellious councillors by Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, saying it was null and void.
The opposition MDC last week fired Mutare mayor Tatenda Nhemarare and recalled Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi for defying party directives during mayoral elections after allegations that they voted for Zanu PF candidates.
The party also fired four councillors in Mutare, three in Gweru and three other councillors in Victoria Falls.
All councillors were expelled for corruption and colluding with Zanu PF.
Douglas Mwonzora, MDC spokesperson, has said the party was writing to Chombo notifying him about the expulsion and expected him to act.
But Chombo has rejected the move.
Addressing journalists and municipal officials from Bindura, Chitungwiza and Harare, the minister rapped the MDC action, branding it “insane.”
“On the recent actions by MDC, I am confused, perplexed and baffled as to why the party would fire councillors for exercising their democratic right,” Chombo said. “The councillors voted for the candidates they thought were the best and they voted as councillors and not MDC members. Why then would MDC punish someone for exercising his or her right? I find this insane and I feel pity for the councillors.”
Chombo said he does not take orders from the MDC.
“MDC has always been calling for free elections and when one votes freely, the party decides to expel him,” Chombo queried. “What kind of behaviour is this? If the party wanted to select one councillor as the mayor, there wouldn’t be a need for mayoral elections.”
This is not the first time Chombo has vetoed an MDC decision to expel councillors.
During the tenure of the inclusive government, the MDC fired some of its councillors in Harare, Chitungwiza, Gweru, Kwekwe and Zvishavane for allegedly engaging in corrupt activities, but Chombo refused to endorse expulsion.