Interested in politics, not farming: Mayor

Suspended MutareMayor Brian James has rubbished claims that he ventured into politics in order to regain his land that was taken under the land reform programme.

Suspended Mayor of Mutare Brian James.
Suspended Mayor of Mutare Brian James.

Town Clerk ObertMuzawazi wrote a statement in a council publication, The Mutare Bulletin, saying the suspension ofMayor James did not come as a surprise and that James joined the political fraternity to regain hisformer Grange Farm in Old Mutare.

In an interview, James described the statements as rubbish,saying he joined politics after he was called by MDC-T to take overthe post of treasurer in 2005.

“I have no intention whatsoever of going back into farming because I am now focused on other businesses. I was called and accepted,” he said.

Muzawazi, who is allegedly working in cahoots with MDC-Tcouncilors to topple James, wrote that James was an architect who had fallen off his own ladder.

“The mayor hates the Town Clerk for being a member of Zanu (PF) and would run the council outside the auspices and advice of the TownClerk,” said Muzawazi.

Smear campaign

The article goes on to blacken the mayor’s name by accusing him of racially-motivated decisions in his council work.

James was suspended by Minister of Local Government, IgnatiusChombo,two months ago on allegations of insubordination. The mayor said his suspension was political and he would fight itthrough legal channels.He said whatever he did at the council was above board.

“I am a ceremonial mayor and everything we did needed consensus. Everything was dealt with collectively and in the interestof transparency and accountability,” he said.

James added the council was an elected body that formulated policy that the management had to implement. He also confirmed that he refused to sign Borrowing Powersbecause the council management wanted to buy themselves top of therange vehicles at the expense of service delivery.

James said there had been allegations of corruption against managementand councilors because the council was failing to proveits innocence.

Open to scrutiny

“We must be open to public scrutiny,” he said. “We hired external independent auditors to do our 2010 audits. I evencalled for a special council meeting to reaffirm our commitment to an international audit.” Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association coordinator,David Mutambirwa, said the mayor’s suspension was unjustified.

Mayor James is credited for successfully securing a $1 million loan from SIDA to rehabilitate dilapidated infrastructure in Mutare.

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