CIO infiltrates Gweru council

The Central Intelligence Organisation has infiltrated the city council in an attempt to paralyse the local authority, which is run by the MDC-T.

Chombo's letter reversing the suspension of workers understood to be in the CIO scheme.
Chombo’s letter reversing the suspension of workers understood to be in the CIO scheme.

Investigations by The Zimbabwean and high level inside sources reveal that the spy agency has devised several subtle schemes to ensure that Zanu (PF) takes over control of the city that has been in the hands of MDC-T since 2000.

Part of this scheme involves taking advantage of the disgruntlement among council workers over outstanding salaries. It seeks to use these workers to sabotage service delivery and arouse resentment among rate-payers.

Sources said the CIO had planted agents among the workers to agitate for a continuation of industrial action that started on April 28. Frank Muzorera, the secretary of the workers’ committee, is a graduate from the Border Gezi youth training service and was seconded last year by Zanu (PF) Ward 1 councillor Tiripai Chipondeni to be employed at town house as a contract worker. He is believed to be the CIO’s lynchpin in this scheme. Chipondeni is a former Police Internal Security and Intelligence member.

Heavy links

Lately Muzorera has been at the fore-front of advocating for a continued strike despite council’s partial settlement of workers’ outstanding salaries while also boasting of “heavy links” in government. He has also attacked MDC-T councillors in the past and has been sued for $10 000 by Ward 5 councillor Moses Marecha for defamation of character.

A fellow workers committee member told this reporter that during one of their private meetings Muzorera made a phone call to VP Emmerson Mnangagwa after some had asked him to prove he was “connected” and that he could influence Zanu (PF) to end their woes. This was followed by the VP’s intervention which saw council management being forced to sign a commitment to settle the workers’ outstanding salaries.

“The scheme here is simply to squeeze the city council resources and channel them to pay salaries – leaving nothing for service delivery. Zanu (PF) is desperate to take control of the council because the new constitution is going to re-introduce executive mayors and so they need power – especially in Gweru, which is the capital of the VP’s province,” said the source.

Chombo involved

Local government minister Ignatius Chombo is understood to be assisting in the scheme. In a letter dated 21 May, he nullified all the resolutions that had been made by the city fathers in order to deal with the infiltration. These included suspending the mischievous workers, including Muzorera, on misconduct grounds after they had stormed a previous private meeting of councillors in the town house chamber. He also nullified a resolution calling for early retirement of aged workers and slashing of working hours for others to save funds.

"This letter serves to advise that I have, in terms of section 314 (1) of the Urban Councils Act, Chapter 29:15, rescinded all resolutions made during the special council meeting held on 18 May 2015. I have noted that these resolutions are not in the interests of the inhabitants of Gweru City, neither are they in the national or public interest," reads part of the letter.

Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi said he had no material evidence to confirm the CIO scheme but believes there is a strong political hand in what is happening at council. “What I can say is that we now have silent political activists with hidden agendas among the workers. It’s no longer about collective bargaining but activism,” he said.

Cornelia Selipiwe, the workers’ committee spokesperson, dismissed the allegations of infiltration and absolved Muzorera of any mischief.

“What I can only say is that we have a zebra colour in terms of political party affiliations in both the workers’ committee and the general workers as well. The possibility that some spy for the benefit of their parties has been talked of but I do not believe in that. People like Muzorera have been fingered but again we stand by him and think he has been doing the right things,” he said.

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