Chaos as Bulawayo mayoral elections are postponed
By Jeffrey Muvundusi
Police reinforcements had to be called in as Bulawayo residents yesterday disrupted council elections for the mayor and deputy after they protested against the no-show by councillors to a new venue they had suggested. The elections have been moved to Friday.
But it was the idea to move the mayor and deputy mayor’s elections from the council’s chamber to the large City Hall that backfired spectacularly after the City Fathers who had initially agreed to the change of venue realised late that doing so was illegal.
Residents and activists in Bulawayo had asked council to move the elections to a bigger place as the chambers were too small for the hundreds who had shown interest and petitioned Bulawayo City Council.
The elections which were supposed to start by exactly 4pm delayed for more than 30 minutes as the residents and activists patiently waited for the councillors and council officials to pitch up to the already set up tables for them. However, that wasn’t to be as only the town clerk, Christopher Dube later pitched up.
By the time Dube came to the stage to issue an apology to those already seated in the Large City Hall, hundreds of angry residents started booing him and singing protest songs. Realising that the situation had just got out of hand, Dube walked out the city hall without saying a word.
The visibly energetic and excitable activists also walked out of the hall and gathered by the entrance where they started singing protest songs while also carrying placards carrying tribal slurs as well as those denouncing councillor Arnold Batirai who was recently caught in the eye of the storm after he used Shona to recite an oath during the swearing-in ceremony last Friday.
Sensing that the chaos could easily degenerate into a full blown demonstration, the police immediately reacted by sending three tankers with armed police to monitor the situation.
Speaking to journalists following his unexpected humiliation, Dube said:
“The first reason was that the movement of the first meeting of councillors from chambers to the large city hall was illegal. Secondly for security reason, the meeting had to be cancelled.”
“In the first place we thought it was the best thing, remember there were a lot of people last Friday who came to witness the swearing in ceremony and the residents then wrote a petition saying they wanted to be involved, so we then moved the meeting to the City Hall.”
“In the spirit of transparency, we thought it was the best idea but unfortunately we were advised that what we had done was illegal and of course we are law abiding officials of council, we had to listen to the legal advice,” Dube explained.
Dube, however, said the meeting was now likely to be held this coming Friday although he said it will also depend on the availability of the person who is likely to chair the meeting. Daily News