LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo has completely paralysed Harare City Council’s operations by suspending 13 councillors for allegedly interfering with the manag
ement of council affairs.
Last week Chombo suspended the 13 councillors after a full council meeting in which acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara was ousted from her position. Dr Christopher Mushonga was elected deputy mayor in her place.
Chombo suspended Mushonga and 12 other councillors the following day.
Chombo has been at loggerheads with the MDC-dominated council since it assumed office in 2002 and last month fired the first elected executive mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri for alleged mismanagement.
President Robert Mugabe has appointed Witness Mangwende, an unelected MP, as governor of the city.
Last week’s move brings to 19 the number of suspended councillors, heavily weakening the council and its six committees responsible for decision-making.
As a result of the suspensions, council was forced to abort its full meeting on Wednesday due to lack of a quorum. Sixteen councillors form a quorum.
The council has six committees each consisting of nine councillors. The suspension of the 19 leaves 26 councillors, which effectively means only four committees can meet.
The committees which are still operational are finance, audit, procurement, and environmental management.
Councillor Elizabeth Marunda of Ward 9 who chairs the finance committee said the suspensions would seriously affect the quality of decision-making.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to reschedule the meeting because we can’t form a quorum,” Marunda said.
“Our mandate as elected councillors is to make decisions for the good of residents but we are not in a position to do so under the prevailing conditions. We hope to be able to fulfil our mandate in the next meeting.”
The suspended councillors have since filed an urgent application with the High Court seeking to nullify the suspension and interdict Chombo from interfering with and disrupting the affairs and business at the council.
The case will be heard on Monday.