Yeukai Karengezeka Herald Correspondent
MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa was yesterday in the eye of a storm after being accused of imposing a mayoral candidate on Chitungwiza, precipitating a stand-off that almost scuttled the swearing-in of councillors and the election of the mayor.
Two MDC-Alliance councillors ended up casting their votes for a Zanu-PF candidate in protest against Mr Chamisa’s imposition of Councillor Gift Tsverere, who eventually won the mayoral post.
MDC-Alliance senior members who included Mr Voice Chinake, Mr Morgan Femai, Mr Dickson Tarusenga and Mr Job Sikhala refused to vacate the chamber to pave way for a smooth election, reportedly to ensure Mr Chamisa’s interests were protected by intimidating the councillors.
The opposition party’s supporters caused further delays to the election process as they became rowdy, shouting obscenities against Mr Chamisa’s alleged imposition of Clr Tsverere.
MDC-Alliance councillors and supporters in Chitungwiza preferred former deputy mayor Clr Goodwill Mushangwe for the mayoral post.
“We want all the leadership out of that room because they want to instil fear in our councillors to vote for someone they do not prefer, but because he is loved by Chamisa,” shouted one of the supporters. “Councillors must be left alone to decide.
“When the shortlisted candidates did interviews, Clr Mushangwe had the highest points, but surprisingly a special meeting was held today at the party headquarters together with the leadership to eliminate Mushangwe.”
Chitungwiza district officer Mrs Zivanai Zisango, who was presiding over the swearing-in ceremony, asked supporters of both MDC Alliance and Zanu-PF to vacate the room, but the MDC-Alliance leadership refused toto do so.
Those nominated for the mayoral post included Clr Tsverere and Clr Mushangwe (both of MDC-Alliance) and Cde Kiven Mutimbanyoka (Zanu-PF).
Ironically, Clr Mushangwe withdrew his candidature before voting began.
Some councillors requested that the voting process be postponed due to the chanting by the angry MDC Alliance supporters within and outside the room, but Mrs Zivanai ruled that elections would proceed, which prompted four of the five Zanu-PF councillors to withdrwaw from the ballot.
Clr Tsverere won by 19 votes, while Cde Mutimbanyoka received two votes from MDC Alliance councillors, after Zanu-PF councillors recused themselves from the voting due to the hostile environment.
Clr Tsverere will be deputised by Clr Jabulani Mtunzi.
MDC-Alliance organising secretary for Chitungwiza Mr Rangarirai Mutingwende promised to institute disciplinary measures against those who opposed Cllr Tsverere’s mayoral candidacy.
“We did not condone the behaviour exhibited by some councillors, especially Darlingtone Musonza, who castigated the party’s leadership, accusing it of foul play in the nomination of the mayor,” he said.
“We are going to take disciplinary measures, we also had two of our councillors who voted for a Zanu-PF candidate, it does not make sense at all.”
Journalists were also caught up in the squabbles and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) condemned the threats on journalists and press freedom.
“Media freedom and the protection of journalists is a constitutionally guaranteed right, which must be respected at every event,” said MISA director Mr Thabani Moyo. “Today’s events at Chitungwiza were deplorable where The Herald reporter, who is apparently pregnant, was shoved while covering the mayoral election.
“That was uncalled for and outright deplorable, especially by people elected to lead and worse off this was done in council chambers.”