Politburo plots Masunda ouster

Zanu (PF) has devised a plan to push Harare Mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, out of office saying he is frustrating their efforts to regain control of the capital ahead of the next general elections, The Zimbabwean has learnt.

Muchadeyi Masunda.
Muchadeyi Masunda.

But a defiant Masunda has dismissed the Zanu (PF) bid as futile. According to information leaked to this newspaper by a member of the Politburo, the party’s decision-making body, members are concerned that Masunda was heavily involved in a housing project in Kuwadzana that could give political leverage to the rival MDC-T.

The issue of the housing project and Masunda’s perceived dilution of Zanu (PF) influence were discussed at a recent Politburo meeting, according to the source.

“The Politburo expressed concern at Masunda’s involvement in the proposed Kuwadzana 2 housing project, which Zanu (PF) fears will put the MDC in good stead ahead of next elections,’’ said the Politburo member.

The Politburo meeting was told that Zanu (PF) had gathered intelligence indicating that Masunda had sourced about $3m from a named local bank to fund the project, which is expected to benefit about 18,000 people.

‘‘It was resolved that Masunda must be stopped as the project will clearly hand over the constituency to MDC-T,’’ said the source. Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T National Organising Secretary, is the sitting Member of Parliament for Kuwadzana.

The Politburo expects Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government Minister, to charge Masunda with incompetence or other derelictions and then fire him. Chombo has already fired or suspended mayors and councillors from Harare, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi, Mutare, Bindura, Gwanda and Rusape on allegations of misconduct and maladministration – none of which have been proven in court.

Masunda, who was elected mayor in 2008, said Zanu (PF) could not determine his removal or departure from offices.

‘‘How will they accomplish their mission when they played no part in my election as Mayor? I was elected at the behest of 46 democratically elected councillors, of whom 45 belong to the mainstream MDC,’’ Masunda told The Zimbabwean.

‘‘My mandate is to get our capital city working again for the benefit largely of the vulnerable and disadvantaged stakeholders of Greater Harare,’’ he said. “The provision of services (to residents) has absolutely nothing to do with petty party politics!’’ He denied sourcing funds for the housing project.

Critics say the charges are spurious and politically motivated and are a strategy to dilute MDC power in urban constituencies that the party gained from 2000.

“James was a victim of Zanu (PF) racial politics. We decided that it was not in the best interests of the liberation struggle for Mutare to host Mugabe 21st Movement Birth day Celebrations with a white man as Mayor. Chombo was then tasked to remove James from Town House at all costs,” said the source.

Zanu (PF) councillors have been used to obtain information about their MDC counterparts that Chombo has used to victimise them. The party, which still has influence in the management of councils, is reportedly instructing town clerks not to implement MDC resolutions so that the party is seen as a failure.

Chombo acts with utter impunity. He recently vowed to ignore a court order compelling him to reinstate Zvishavane MDC –T Council Chairperson, Alois Zhou, who was acquitted of corruption charges by a local magistrate.

It remains to be seen if he will respect a recent High Court judgement stopping him from instituting disciplinary action against Chinhoyi Mayor, Claudius Nyamhondoro, and Councillor Owen Charuza on charges of misconduct.

Chombo’s mayoral battles

April 2003 – Chombo suspends MDC Mayor, Elias Mudzuri, without giving reasons. Sets up a nine member commission led by Jameson Kurasha to investigate.

Nov 2003 – Kurasha Commission declared illegal by the High Court.

March 2004 – Chombo sets up a new three member commission that recommends Mudzuri be fired for mismanagement and corruption.

Dec 2011 – Chombo suspends Chinhoyi Mayor Claudius Nyamhondoro, for allegedly defying his directive to reverse a sewer reticulation tender.

Jan 2012 – Chombo suspends Chinhoyi Deputy Mayor, Willie Nyambi on the same charges.

Jan 2012 – Chombo suspends Brian James, the Mutare Mayor, for misconduct. The Mayor is ejected by council security from his office.

June 2012 – Chombo attacks Masunda, describing him as worse than Mudzuri.

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