The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has criticised Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo for blocking the opposition party’s newly-elected councillors from voting out sitting mayors linked to the MDC Alliance and ZANU PF.
In a letter dated 22 April 2022, Moyo advised provincial ministers and officials in his ministry that sitting mayors, deputy mayors, chairpersons of committees and their deputies cannot be removed. Wrote Moyo:
As I congratulate the new councillors who have been elected, may I take this opportunity to remind the councils that this was not a general election and, as such, the sitting mayors, deputy mayors, chairpersons of committees and their deputies remain as constituted prior to the by-elections.
In terms of section 114 of the Local Government Laws Amendment Act, number 8 of 2016, a mayor, deputy mayor or councillor can only be removed from his position through an independent tribunal or through section 129 of the Constitution.
You are, therefore, advised that your councils cannot reconstitute the leadership architecture in place unless there is a vacancy.
Meanwhile, CCC secretary for local government Jacob Mafume has accused Moyo of interfering in the operations of opposition-dominated councils. Addressing reporters on Friday, Mafume said:
We understand that the Minister of Local Government is desperate to punish the urban populations for voting against ZANU PF.
We know he has the mandate to exercise extreme cruelty to the residents of the cities. He is exercising it in a crude fashion.
They want to deliver on services, but you then say they must sit there, you say they must not be put in committees, they must not change the committee, they must come in and become spectators.
We cannot do that (follow directives). We will not do that. We will instruct all our local governments to ignore this directive to the extent of its illegality.
We are going to go to court on an urgent basis and we have to comply with the law and we are also going to instruct our councillors and our leadership to continue working so that if they are punished, they will be punished for working, they will reconstitute the leadership of council.
Mafume implored the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to intervene and stop the Ministry of Local Government from disrupting the operations of local authorities.