The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Masunda, Chiroto Rift

Harare deputy mayor Clr Emmanuel Chiroto and Clr Thomas Muzuva were on Monday involved in a nasty incident jostling for a position at the "high table" during the late Vice President Landa John Nkomo's burial at the National Heroes Acre. Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda appointed Clr Muzuva as acting mayor when he travelled to Cape Town last week. He returned on Wednesday.

The appointment did not go down well with Clr Chiroto who felt Mr Masunda misdirected himself by appointing a junior.

Clr Muzuva said he "graciously" accepted the honour and was ready to be part of history as the city's representative during VP Nkomo's burial.

During salutations President Mugabe acknowledged the presence of the Harare mayor.

Clr Muzuva on Wednesday confirmed the standoff saying he decided to let the incident pass. Clr Chiroto took over Mayor Masunda's roles during VP Nkomo's burial. But Mr Masunda said Clr Chiroto was not fit to represent him.

"Clr Chiroto was not, with all due respect to him, a fit and proper person to stand in for me in the light of a number of question marks surrounding his integrity," said Mr Masunda.

"The other main consideration ......... it was imperative for the City of Harare to be appropriately represented at the funeral of the Late Vice President John Landa Nkomo," he said.

Clr Muzuva said: "I sat among the relatives. I had gone to the Heroes' Acre to perform my duties as per my appointment. My failure to do the duties was clearly insubordination."

Clr Chiroto used the mayoral Mercedes Benz to travel to the Heroes' Acre. He said he would seek a meeting with Mr Masunda for the reasons Clr Muzuva was delegated that duty.

"Maybe it was a mistake. But when ever the mayor is away I will perform my duties as acting mayor as stipulated by the Urban Councils' Act.

"The mayor does not have to look elsewhere when I am available. Whether he likes it or not I will be acting mayor in his absence," he said.

Officials have said the dispute between Mr Masunda and his deputy has affected Town House operations. Clr Chiroto was expelled from MDC-T with several other councillors from other local authorities for corruption. The party said the councillors would not be allowed to hold public office after being found guilty of corruption.

Mr Masunda acknowledged the Urban Councils Act gives power to his deputy in his absence.

"I am painfully aware of the provisions of the Urban Councils Act, with particular reference to section 104(2) and (3) in which it is clearly stated that in the absence of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor shall perform the functions of the Mayor.

Only in the absence of both the mayor and his deputy that a councillors acts as mayor. But Mr Masunda said the situation at Town House was different because he was dealing with a deputy mayor fired by his political party.

He said Clr Chiroto who no longer represents the interests of MDC-T voters in Hatcliffe should quit.

"Surely, his resignation will not herald the end of the world for him as he can always bounce back into the political limelight after making peace with his principals within the mainstream MDC," he said.

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