By Mark Mhukayesango
GWERU -7 September 2015-Twelve of the sixteen suspended MDC-T councillors who last week snubbed the Ministry of Local Government set tribunal have finally gave in to pressure from local government Minister Savior Kasukuwere to answer to allegations of gross misconduct and misappropriation of funds.
Kasukuwere last week wrote to the councillors, advising them to appear before a tribunal committee to answer to corruption, gross misconduct and maladministration
charges leveled against them.
But the councilors who were suspended last month failed to appear before the tribunal on Friday after their lawyers,Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum argued that the panel was not properly constituted.
The tribunal is chaired by Lixon Chikumbirike ,former Midlands provincial administrator Stephen Chakaipa, Ganyani Khosa and prosecutor Justin Uladi.
But the MDC provincial executive also advised its councillors to boycott the “kangaroo” court,questioning its credibility.
“In this regard, we wish to advise that, the tribunal which you have set-up fails to meet the requisite elements to be the tribunal envisaged in terms of Section 278 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” reads part of the letter dated September 2 from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum seen by Radio VOP.
“We, therefore, wish to advise that our clients will not appear before the purported tribunal you have set and will not legitimize or recognize its existence and jurisdiction over them,” it reads.
Suspended councilors who spoke to Radio VOP on condition of anonymity said appearing before the tribunal was the only way to vilify themselves.
“If we do not appear before the tribunal it will seem as if we are hiding the truth. They are coming up with these allegations to discredit our leadership,” a suspended councilor said.
Suspended councilor for ward 14 ,Kenneth Sithole said the tribunal hearings were a mere formality because Zanu PF has vowed to retain the council.
“This is just mere formality so that it sounds fair. Zanu PF has made it clear that they will not rest until Gweru council is dominated by Zanu PF,” Sithole said.
He alleged that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed that Zanu PF will regain control of the local authority at all costs.
“Mnangagwa and his wife have vowed that regaining council control was top of its agenda ,so these are the manifestations,” said Sithole.
The tribunal is set to release results of the hearings this week ,amid fears that this might spell the end of MDC-T reign at the local authority.
Meanwhile Zanu PF councillors looked calm as they waited for their turn to present themselves before the tribunal.
Speaking to Radio VOP, suspended councillor,Tiripai Chipondeni said the 3 Zanu PF councilors would not bother looking for lawyers.
“Engaging lawyers is a complete waste of time and resources because we are sure that we will be vindicated. We are however confident that the panel will do a good job in dealing with the matter,” Chipondeni said.
Zanu PF has since declared ward 11,Mkoba vacant ,following the dismissal of councilor Albert Chirau on allegations of gross misconduct and abuse of funds.
Meanwhile ,dismissed councillor,Chirau has since approached the Constitutional Court challnging his dismissal, but a new councilor would have taken over the reigns as the case proceeds.