MPs take Chombo to task

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Local Government took Minister Ignatius Chombo to task last week over allegations that he was corrupt and had illegally interfered with activities of local authorities.


They quizzed him on a number of issues, including: overriding a decision taken by Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni to suspend town clerk Tendai Mahachi for insubordination; unilateral approval of salaries and benefits; protection of non-performing town clerks.

Chombo was also asked to clarify his alleged links to ORGAN Investments, contracted by government to rehabilitate the Harare Airport road.

Not mincing its words, the committee castigated the minister for his alleged appointment of relatives and associates from his home area, Mashonaland West Province, to the board of directors and management at the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company.

Joseph Chinotimba, Zanu (PF) MP for Buhera South, revealed that the majority of the 14 chief executive officers who worked at ZUPCO between 2005 and 2013, exiting with appetising packages, came from Chombo’s province.

He denied the accusations. Irene Zindi, the chairperson, warned Chombo that he would continue interfering with local authority activities at his own peril, as it was unconstitutional.

Jessie Majome, MDC-T MP, quizzed Chombo about where he got the powers to meddle with local authority business when “Section 2 of the Constitution clearly states that people should manage the affairs of their local authorities through their elected councillors”.

“One would wonder where you derive the authority to override and interfere with local authority business,” said Majome. “You have no right to reverse decisions taken by councillors elected by the people.”

Elias Mudzuri, MDC-T MP for Warren Park, told Chombo that he had approved salary and benefits for Harare town clerk, Tendai Mahachi, without the council’s consent.

Sesel Zvidzai, MDC-T MP for Gweru Urban, noted that with Chombo’s blessing district and provincial administrators continued to supervise local authorities in violation of the constitution.

Chombo was at pains to justify his interference at the local authorities, saying “I will continue superintending over local authorities until there is an Act suggesting otherwise.”He was ordered to submit a report regarding the allegations.

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