James was elected councilor for Ward 12 of the eastern border city on an MDC-T ticket and was subsequently chosen as Mayor by the councilors following the 2008 harmonised elections.
He was however suspended last week by the Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for alleged ‘misconduct’. The MDC-T described the suspension as ‘ridiculous’ and threatened to disregard Chombo’s action.
MDC-T spokesman for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the suspension of James was absurd and that over 20 000 people in Mutare have since signed a petition calling for his reinstatement.
“We have written a letter to the police seeking permission to stage the demonstrations from various wards to the government complex where the petition will be handed over to the governor Chris Mushowe,” Muchauraya explained.
He added: “This will be followed by an address to the protestors by the MDC Provincial leadership. We notified the police of our intentions on Monday and we are still waiting for a reply.”
Muchauraya said Chombo was fighting hard to get rid of James, who recently blocked the sale of land at the Meikles Park to Anjin, a Chinese firm that is mining diamonds in Chiadzwa in partnership with the State owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
The Chinese firm wanted to buy land at Meikles Park (which is prime land in the central business district) for peanuts and intended to build an 18 storey hotel which would also house a supermarket and other shops.
Chombo had ordered the Mutare City Council to first give the land to Anjin in exchange for state land that the council would get from the government.
“Council defied Chombo’s interference and on top of that James wanted an audit of council books from 2008 to see how many stands have been sold in the city and who,” Muchauraya said.
He added: “Don’t forget that Chombo owns properties in almost every town and city in Zimbabwe. This action by Chombo to suspend James may be an attempt to block his demands for an audit.” – SW Radio Africa NewsPost published in: News