|Minister Chombo refuses to fire MDC-T councillors|
|Saturday, 18 August 2012 18:25|
LOCAL Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo, said he has been ignoring calls from senior officials in the MDC-T to fire councillors on allegations of corruption, adding that they wanted to use him in the party’s factional wars.
He said he does not get orders from political parties but from the Urban Councils Act and therefore would not be used by political establishments to fight factional wars through expelling those perceived to be enemies.
He said even corrupt councillors belonging to his Zanu-PF party would face equal punishment if found on the wrong side of the provisions of the Urban Councils Act.
Speaking in an interview in Zvishavane recently, Dr Chombo said there were high-ranking officials in the MDC-T who requested him to fire certain councillors on allegations of corruption but he could not find evidence linking them to the corrupt activities labelled against them by their party.
As a result, he said, he could not expel them since the action was not provided for in the Urban Councils Act.
“There are various allegations levelled against me. Some say I am after firing MDC-T councillors while others claim that I am protecting them, but the truth is I am not going to get orders from political parties in as far as running local authorities is concerned, either Zanu-PF or MDC. I am guided by the provisions of the Urban Councils Act. That is my ultimate authority.
“I later realised that the MDC was out to use me to fight factional wars within their party. They wanted me to fire certain councillors who are perceived as enemies by the other faction. Unfortunately those are the very same people who were quick to say I am protecting corrupt councillors.
“Of course the bulky of their councillors are corrupt but to say all of them will be too sweeping a statement and for them to try to use me to fight their factional wars is belittling me and trying to interfere with a Government ministry. I will not be bent to act in their favour, that will be grossly unprofessional,’’ he said.
He scoffed at reports that he was targeting MDC-T councillors in various cities saying although the majority of them were greedy and incompetent; it was not fair to dismiss them on flimsy allegations of corruption levelled against them either by political competitors or factional enemies.
The minister said the MDC-T had carried its own investigations into allegations of corruption in local authorities but the report was kept secretive.
“We are told there is a report that was compiled by the MDC-T after investigations into allegations of corruption in councils. We were eagerly waiting for the results of the investigations which never come out publicly. They are keeping it secretive and we wonder why they are not embarrassing me if I am wrong in taking whatever decisions I am taking. Maybe they have realised that I am being lenient to their councillors, that is, if the investigations are genuine and objective,’’ he said.
He said Government would not stand aloof while corruption took its toll in councils with councillors unashamedly busy parcelling out stands to their proxies.
Deputy Minister of Local Government Rural and Urban Development Sesel Zvidzai (MDC-T) recently admitted that there was rampant corruption in MDC-T dominated councils. He, however, accused Minister Chombo of playing cheap political games by suspending and expelling the corrupt councillors.