HARARE delivered both pain and delight in equal measure to different political interest groups as the fight for Town House continues unabated.
Opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is still groping for answers following an embarrassing move by his subordinates to send town clerk-designate James Mushore on forced leave, despite his party’s repeated claims to the contrary.
But hours after the decision, the opposition MDC-T, whose councillors dominate the capital city’s chambers, convened an urgent caucus meeting and announced acting mayor Christopher Mbanga had been ordered to reverse Mushore’s “suspension”.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu confirmed the decision.
“It is true that the party has directed the acting mayor of Harare and all our councillors to reverse the resolution to send town clerk James Mushore on forced leave,” Gutu said.
He told NewsDay Weekender that Mbanga risked being expelled from the party if he did not carry out the order.
“This is the official party position and it shall be carried out as ordered by the party leadership. Failure to obey the official party directive will, of course, attract very serious and drastic penalties, including, but not limited to, recall from council as well as expulsion from the party,” the MDC-T spokesperson said.
Mbanga refused to comment on the matter.
“I am not commenting on the matter,” he retorted.
And to rub salt into the MDC-T’s wounds, Mbanga received vital political backing from Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who seemed to be celebrating the acting mayor’s open defiance of his party’s directives.
Whether erroneously or by design, Kasukuwere referred to what he called “Mbanga Commission”, an unlikely unwitting slip of the tongue that reveals indeed the deputy mayor has since jumped ship.
“If he (Mushore) succeeds at the Local Government Board, certainly, he will be town clerk with everyone’s support.
That position requires the support of the State. You cannot succeed if the government is not supportive of you, so let’s respect the processes. We are happy that the Mbanga Commission has done the correct thing, let’s just respect our law,” Kasukuwere told journalists yesterday.
Meanwhile, legal processes on the matter have clogged the High Court as well as another one pending at the Constitutional Court.
Tsvangirai might just have lost it and his last-ditch act could have come a tad too late to rescue an already desperate situation.
Kasukuwere last month suspended Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni for allegedly failing to follow procedure in Mushore’s appointment.
Manyenyeni led council to appoint Mushore without the usual approach to the Local Government Board as required by the Urban Councils Act, arguing the country’s supreme law that provides for devolved power and a bit of autonomy to local authorities on management an issue including appointment of senior officials takes precedence.
Kasukuwere could have none of it and wielded the guillotine, leaving Manyenyeni in the cold, and thrust Mbanga into the hot seat.
Mbanga immediately went to work undoing the very things that Manyenyeni had built with so much guile since his appointment in 2013.
Mushore was pushed to the back-burner and chamber secretary Josephine Ncube, who is said to have fared so dismally during the interview for town clerk, took charge, a move insiders said was Kasukuwere’s brainchild.
Tsvangirai watched without a word, allowing even council to sit and deliberate on a matter he was aware was sub judice (before the courts) which Kasukuwere funnily admitted.
“There is a legal process, the Constitutional Court has to make a declaration and I am sure all the people who are making noise, if they are learned people, should know how to follow the laws of the land,” he said, despite the fact that he was openly riding roughshod over the same process he purported to respect.
NewsDay Weekender was reliably informed that at least 31 out of the 35 MDC-T councillors had by yesterday morning signed the party resolution to reverse the decision to send Mushore on leave, a move that was likely to isolate Mbanga.
However, the move could prove insignificant.
Mushore, for his part, has continued to report for duty, but Mbanga has reportedly continued to “throw spanners in the works”, despite the MDC-T steadfastly standing by the career banker.
It remains to be seen if the acting mayor will abide by his party’s decision, with analysts predicting he could be willing to ignore it and jump ship to join Zanu PF.
Gutu, however, claimed: “All our councillors are on board regarding the party directive and in the fullness of time, the resolution to send Mushore on forced leave will be reversed. It’s just a matter of time, really.”
The fight for Harare seems another political Rubicon that Tsvangirai and his MDC-T have once again been found wanting, both strategically and structurally, beaten to a pulp by Kasukuwere, nicknamed Tyson after former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
After his knockout blow on the MDC-T, Kasukuwere can begin the intricate plot leading up to 2018 and that around the main opposition party’s very own personnel.