MDC Alliance councillors in Victoria Falls defied a directive by MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora to reinstate the resort town's mayor, who was fired by the Nelson Chamisa-led party.
The councillors chose Richard Mguni to take over as mayor from Somvelo Dlamini, who was fired last month for defying a party directive.
Dlamini was reinstated by Local Government minister July Moyo last week following Mwonzora's intervention.
Fellow councillors, however, ignored the move and held elections on Thursday where they elected Mguni ahead of Patricia Mwale, who is now the deputy mayor.
"We think interested parties will understand that resignation is a unilateral act and everything we did was above board on the basis of that resignation," said a councillor.
"We proceeded in terms of section 103 of the Urban Councils Act.
"However, politics remains politics and powerful politicians in many instances get their way."
Prince Dubeko Sibanda, the MDC Alliance provincial chairman for Matabeleland North, said Dlamini was only reinstated as a councillor, not mayor.
"The former mayor was reinstated to be councillor and not mayor," Sibanda said.
"Mayorship is acquired through elections by councillors.
"The duly elected mayor of Victoria Falls municipality is Councillor Rich Mguni.
In a letter to Dlamini, Moyo said he was reinstating him as councillor for ward nine following a letter from Mwonzora.
Moyo had in March declared the ward vacant and a by-election was now due.
Dlamini was expelled by MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende through a letter dated February 24 on charges of violating party rules and undermining protocol after he contested and won the mayoral elections in 2018.
The party wanted him to step aside for its preferred candidate Margaret Valley.
Dlamini took the party to the High Court contesting his expulsion but later withdrew the lawsuit after he reached a deal with Mwonzora and his allies that he would be reinstated.
Mwonzora had also reinstated Masvingo and Chegutu mayors that were fired under similar circumstances.