Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto of Harare, Zimbabwe, has described as "unfortunate" a decision by the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to establish a committee to look into corruption by city councilors.
The committee, expected to begin work in early 2012, is to probe councilors accused of abusing their positions to acquire residential plots, business premises and vehicles.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo told Newsday that the decision vindicates him of accusations he has a habit of meddling in the operations of councils.
But Chiroto told VOA reporter Violet Gonda the probe is driven by MDC legislators fearful of competition from some of the councilors in the next round of national elections.
"Unfortunately councilors are not well represented in the National Council hence decisions against them can easily be passed," Chiroto said.
Some legislators "do not feel safe because quite a number of councilors are so much visible on the ground and very close to the electorate," he said.
Harare Residents Trust Coordinator Precious Shumba welcomed the probe, charging that councilors including Chiroto have accumulated wealth in three years in office.
He said Harare residents are concerned at a lack of accountability on the part of elected councilors focused on accumulating wealth instead of improving public services.
Such accumulation of wealth has remained unexplained, "including the deputy mayor who has hidden behind the death of his wife to justify the kind of wealth he has accumulated within the short period that he has been the deputy mayor," Shuma said.