By Nduduzo Tshuma
BULAWAYO Mayor Solomon Mguni yesterday lifted the suspension of Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, as the Government condemned the violent manner in which he was ejected from his office.
Councillor Mguni’s Deputy, Councillor Tinashe Kambarami on Thursday suspended Mr Dube and, with the help of other councillors, ejected the Town Clerk from his office before locking it and placing a key blocker.
This was despite the advice to Clr Kambarami by Chamber Secretary Mrs Sikhangele Zhou that they had not followed procedure in their actions.
The MDC Alliance councillors had plotted to suspend Mr Dube at an aborted special council meeting yesterday but Clr Kambarami accompanied by Clr Silas Chigora suspended the Town Clerk on Thursday.
Clr Mguni in a letter to Clr Kambarami lifted Mr Dube’s suspension.
“I am in possession of your letter dated 11th July 2019 in which you suspended the Town Clerk, purportedly in terms of section 139 (9) (3) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29,15).
“In order not to destabilise council business, I hereby lift the said suspension with immediate effect. I further direct the Town Clerk to furnish me with a comprehensive report on the allegations you have raised in your letter. The said report must reach my office within seven days of receipt of this letter,” wrote Clr Mguni.
“By copy of this letter and upon receipt thereof the Town Clerk must report for duty with full salary and benefits. The Chamber Secretary shall cause Council to be advised accordingly.
“The special council meeting that was scheduled to take place today (12th July 2019) is hereby deferred.”
In view of the Mayor’s communication, Mrs Zhou wrote a letter notifying councillors that a special council meeting set for yesterday had been duly cancelled.
Addressing a Press conference at the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex yesterday, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing July Moyo, flanked by Bulawayo provincial affairs Minister Judith Ncube and Provincial Administrator, Mrs Khonzani Ncube, said the treatment of the Town Clerk was unfortunate.
“Fortunately for us, the Mayor has reversed the suspension of the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk is not back at work because his office is still locked and the suspending official who happens to be councillor Kambarami, I have been briefed by the chamber secretary, still holds the keys.
“I don’t want to call him in because that is a matter that must be dealt with by the law enforcement agencies because I would not know what was left inside or taken out of the office of the Town Clerk.
“A normal procedure would have given the chamber secretary the right to see the Town Clerk going out and proper hand over of whatever the Town Clerk was doing, there should have been a proper hand over with the chamber secretary but the chamber secretary says she was not involved,” said Minister Moyo.
“We want to resolve such that the Town Clerk can go back to his office as the Mayor has directed but the fact that his office was locked and certain documents were taken out of that office, we now have to have another procedure before he goes in.”
Minister Moyo said he had received a number of calls from residents associations who expressed concern on the manner the Town Clerk was suspended.
He said he will meet Cllr Mguni and senior council staff to map a way forward to avoid destabilising council operations.
“But you can’t correct a situation of that nature without us looking into why and how did it happen and I have been given a lot of documentation of the advice of the Town Clerk or the chamber secretary through the town clerk, their advice about calling for the special meeting of council, how it ought to be done and if there are any charges that ought to be laid against any officer including the town clerk, how it ought to be done, the advice is there in writing,” said Minister Moyo.
“I’m surprised that the Acting Mayor ended up taking the course that he took in spite of that advice.”
Mr Dube has reportedly resisted the meddlesome conduct and overstepping mandate by MDC Alliance councillors who are interfering in the local authority’s operations.
The councillors are said to be miffed especially by the Town Clerk’s refusal to let them interfere in the distribution of the $5 million ward retention fund, procurement processes and the employment of community groups and control of the subcommittee on allocation of stands and premises. The Chronicle