Gweru mayor Tedius Chimombe has vehemently denied charges of corruption that led to his dismissal from the Movement for Democratic Change party last week, vowing he will not step down.
Chimombe was fired together with eleven other councilors from the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in what the party said is a crackdown on graft within its ranks.
Party secretary for local government Sesal Zvidzai told VOA that Chimombe and Harare deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto and the other councilors were dismissed for “thieving around land and seriously amassing wealth.”
But Chimombe hit back saying the committee that was set-up by Zvidzai to probe the corruption allegations never interviewed him.
Chimombe said he was not asked to appear before a disciplinary committee.
He accused Zvidzai - a former mayor of Gweru - of causing intra-party divisions in the Midlands city in order to gain political mileage.
He said six months ago, the councilors were probed by the local government ministry for “everything, the same allegations which have been investigated by the party, and we were found not guilty by the ministry.”
“It is actually politics games because we are not in good books with him,” Chimombe said, noting that "Zvidzai wants to contest in Gweru urban but I will say no to Zvidzai in Gweru.”
However, Zvidzai insisted that “12 bad apples have been thrown into the rubbish pit” after thorough investigations were conducted by the party. He defended his committee - led by former Minister Fidelis Mhashu - as credible.
Zvidzai had no kind words for Chimombe. He said his party was shocked to find that “a street kid, who had just become a mayor, who neither had toothpaste nor toothbrush has got a fleet of vehicles now and expensive houses".
He also dismissed Chimombe’s claims that he had not been notified of his expulsion saying the mayor was informed about his sacking by phone. “He has been invited to Harare to collect the letter notifying him of the expulsion,” he added.
Meanwhile, the party said in a statement: “The action taken by the MDC leadership will be intensified across the country to reclaim Zimbabwe’s self-respect; a climate of accountability; and push for zero tolerance on corruption and all evils.”
The dismissed councilors from Harare are Emmanuel Chiroto, Peter Marange, Phumulani Musagwiza and Xavier Vengesai. From Gweru – Tedius Chimombe, Clemence Kwaru and Holly Dzuda.
Those dismissed from Bindura are Ivory Matanhire, Vengai Mudadi and Rickson Kaseke. Their colleagues Alois Zhou and Johannes Ngozo are from Zvishavane and Kwekwe respectively.
Zvidzai said the party will forward its findings to the police.
Political commentator Nkululeko Sibanda of the UK-based Huddersfield University said the MDC-T should now put pressure on Zanu PF to put in place a much stronger anti-corruption directorate that will independently look into rampant corruption in the country.