Chaos rocks Victoria Falls: Residents reject imposed CCC mayor
Leonard Ncube, [email protected]
VICTORIA Falls residents yesterday disrupted the process to elect a new mayor for the resort city accusing the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Mr Nelson Chamisa of dictatorial tendencies and seeking to impose foreign candidates ahead of locals.
Eleven elected councillors and three Women’s Quota representatives that make up the Victoria Falls council convened a full council meeting in the boardroom to elect a new mayor and deputy when scores of residents that attended the meeting demanded that the process be stopped.
They accused Mr Chamisa of imposing candidates, claiming Bulawayo deputy mayor Mr Donaldson Mabutho, who was in the resort city, had been sent with a directive for councillors to vote Ward 1 councillor Ephias Mambume as mayor and Cllr Priscilla Mhlanga of Ward 8 as his deputy.
The news crew was told that some residents chased Cllr Mabutho away from the council premises before the meeting.
Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube had just concluded his opening remarks and invited acting Hwange District Development Coordinator Mrs Shamiso Masocha to lead the nomination process when civic activist Mr Trymore Ndolo interjected calling for the process to be stopped.
Residents immediately went into chorus, shouting: “Chamisa cannot impose a candidate for us, Harare cannot decide for Vic Falls”. They vowed to block any imposition of candidates ahead of their choice.
“Mr Town Clerk, before you give to madam Masocha. We believe that as Victorians in terms of regional balances we have to balance when it comes to leadership positions. So, basically the CCC party has put a position of a favoured candidate who is not favourable to the people of Victoria Falls.
“So this meeting must adjourn right now. We are not proceeding with this meeting,” said Mr Ndolo.
Mr Vusumusi Sibanda, who lost as an independent council candidate in the August 23 elections, joined in while banging the table.
“This is the future of our children. This meeting must be adjourned and we expect everybody to stand now and make his way out before it gets terrible. This is the simplest way,” he said as residents broke into song and dance singing “into’yenzayo Chamisa siyayizonda (we don’t like what you are doing Chamisa.”
Management and other officials immediately bolted out as the situation turned chaotic.
Residents continued singing as they left the boardroom into the courtyard where they gathered.
Continuing outside, Mr Sibanda said: “It’s better not to have a mayor. If you people don’t understand, it’s better we have a commission. We cannot have an outsider becoming a mayor.”
Another resident said they will not allow an imposed mayor.
“We are Victoria Falls, we cannot have a mayor from Masvingo. Chamisa even lost in his home area of Masvingo and he wants to dictate to us and impose his homeboy, we will not allow that,” she said from the crowd.
The police anti-riot team ordered the crowd to disperse and advised council management to lock doors and leave.
Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association chair, Mr Kelvin Moyo said while residents’ concerns were genuine, the delay in electing the mayor and deputy might affect the running of council.
“Councillors are supposed to start work but cannot do so because of this impasse. Many councils have already elected their office bearers. A council cannot operate without a mayor and committees for oversight so this dispute should be resolved as soon as possible to avoid compromising service delivery,” said Mr Moyo.
He said residents have made it clear that they want a local to be elected mayor and CCC should respect that.
Another resident, Mr Johnson Ndlovu known as Joe Muff said: “We want a mayor to be someone from here who represents our interests.”
Another resident Mr Herbert Ncube accused the opposition party of undermining democracy.
“People have made it clear that they don’t want an imposed mayor. This is not democracy, people should make decisions because they know the person who can deliver when it comes to running council affairs,” he said.
Town Clerk Mr Dube said council will seek direction from central Government on the way forward.
“This was our first council meeting after elections as we sought to have the election of the mayor and council committees. What happened is that as we entered the boardroom it was already full of residents,” he said.
He said because of the chaos, they decided to stop the elections and seek guidance from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
This is the third time that mayoral elections in the resort city have been disrupted by residents.
In 2013 the opposition councillors ended up voting for Zanu-PF’s Cde Sifiso Mpofu as mayor despite the ruling party having only three out of 11 councillors as the opposition leadership attempted to impose former councillor Marguerette Valley.
In 2018 the mayoral election was called off after Mr Chamisa tried to impose candidates and councillors ended up voting the outgoing mayor Somveli Dlamini who was then recalled for defying the party’s directive. He was later reinstated after the intervention of Local Government Minister July Moyo.