WASHINGTON DC/MUTARE —
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo says he has fired suspended Mutare mayor councillor Brian Leslie James, accusing him of mismanagement, misconduct and insubordination.
Chombo told VOA Studio 7 that the suspended mayor will not be allowed to occupy any local authority post for the next 10 years.
The minister suspended Mr. James in March last year claiming that the MDC-T councilor was incompetent and mismanaged council affairs.
James’ lawyer Blessing Nyamaropa said Mr. Chombo would have acted unlawfully if he has indeed fired James as the High Court bars him from taking any further action against the suspended mayor.
David Mukunda of the Combined Mutare Residents’ Trust said Chombo is predictable in the way he deals with cases involving councilors from the MDC-T.
Meanwhile, the minister is said to have snubbed acting Mutare mayor George Jerison on Monday when he visited his offices trying to persuade him to reverse a decision taken by the city’s Town Clerk to fire 450 contract workers earlier this month.
Jerrison and his team spent the whole day at Mr. Chombo’s offices but left empty-handed since he did not entertain them.
A special council meeting last week recommended that Jerison and other council officials should travel to Harare to ask the minister to intervene to force the Town Clerk to renew contracts for the fired employees.
Council said pressing financial obligations forced them not to renew the contracts.
The Town Clerk last week told the special council meeting that he had no powers to rehire the workers, adding only Mr. Chombo could give such authority.
Contacted for comment, Jerison said Mr. Chombo did not snub his team, adding they saw the minister briefly and set an appointment to discuss issues affecting Mutare city council this Friday.
Councilors are under pressure from their MDC formation to ensure the fired contract workers are reinstated ahead of crucial elections this year.