HARARE – Only a day after bouncing back in office, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni was yesterday suspended yet again, this time on corruption charges.
Manyenyeni was suspended by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere in April, after he had appointed ex-banker James Mushore to the vacant town clerk post and only resumed work on Monday.
But barely 24 hours after resuming his reigns Manyenyeni received another shocker this time from acting Local Government minister Jonathan Moyo informing him that he had been suspended.
In the letter, a copy of which was seen by the Daily News, Manyenyeni is accused of having failed to investigate allegations of corruption at Easipark, City Parking and other entities under Harare Sunshine Holdings Private Limited.
According to the letter Manyenyeni was told on July 27, 2015 by Kasukuwere to conduct the investigations but he did not do anything.
Pursuant to Kasukuwere’s orders, the auditor general on January 25, this year advised Manyenyeni to expand the audit to Harare City Council’s business unit.
In the letter, the Harare mayor is accused of having instructed officials in his office not to allow the audit and also preventing the appointed auditors from carrying out their work.
The ministry argues that Manyenyeni’s conduct “constitutes gross dereliction of duty bordering on incompetence and corruption to the detriment of the residents of the City of Harare”.
“In the circumstances, and in light of the gravity of the matter, I am compelled to suspend you with immediate effect from the office of mayor of the City of Harare and councillor for ward 17 in terms of section 114 (1) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) as read with section 278(2) (b) and (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” read the letter.
While on suspension Manyenyeni has been advised not to conduct any mayoral duties.
He will not be receiving his allowances.
Contacted for comment, Manyenyeni denied the allegations saying “these entities have their own boards and audits”.
is latest suspension has riled residents’ pressure groups, which are now accusing the Zanu PF government of abusing its executive powers.
Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (Hamref) spokesperson Marvellous Kumalo said the move to suspend Manyenyeni was a political stance to fight the opposition stronghold of Harare.
He said the suspension was against devolution of power which is clearly enshrined in Chapter 14 of the Constitution.
It is a clear political move and we do not support such tactics. We are against the interference of the executive in the running of the affairs of all local authorities in the country,” Kumalo said.
Another pressure group, Harare Residents Trust (HRT) said Manyenyeni is being politically victimised as his suspension has nothing to do with the laws of the land but the delayed alignment of Local Government laws to the Constitution.
HRT argues that since no independent tribunal was set up to remove Manyenyeni from office, he should be back at work.
“The Government has no right to abuse the law, and residents denounce such bully behaviour from the minister of Local Government who is abusing his political powers, instead of respecting the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“He is not above the law, and should not be above the law,” the residents organisation said in a statement.