VIC FALLS MAYOR ELECTION HALTED AMID CHAOS
CHAOS reigned supreme during voting for the next Victoria Falls mayor and deputy as residents protested imposition of a candidate by the MDC Alliance.
While the swearing in process went on peacefully, Hwange District Administrator Mr Simon Muleya who was presiding over the election of mayor and deputy deferred the process indefinitely for security reasons owing to the chaos.
The Nelson Chamisa-led coalition which won all the 11 council seats in Victoria Falls, had sent its director for mobilisation and party building Mr Farai Chinobva to direct councillors to vote for the party’s preferred candidates.
Mr Chinobva met councillors yesterday afternoon, following another meeting in Hwange on Monday where sources said councillors from the district were directed to vote for the candidates imposed on them by the party.
Yesterday, the councillors were visibly shaken with some of them even stammering while making oaths.
During the process of nomination, Mr Chinobva could be seen making some non-verbal gestures giving directives for councillors to follow.
Chaos started when Ward 9 Councillor Somvelo Dlamini who is the residents’ choice declined the mayor’s post for which he had been nominated against Ward 1 Clr Margaret Valley.
The DA asked Clr Dlamini who had also been nominated for deputy mayor to choose between the two and he opted for the deputy mayor post, much to the chagrin of residents in the gallery.
In the deputy mayor’s position, Clr Dlamini was to square off with Ward 4 Clr Patricia Mwale and Clr Ephias Mambume of Ward 6.
There was a brief stand-off as Clr Mambume and Mr Muleya argued as the former requested to pull out of the race while the latter said it was too late for him to do so.
When the DA asked councillors to cast their votes for the mayor, councillors protested saying it was pointless since Clr Valley was unopposed hence she should be declared winner.
Councillors requested for a 10 minute break saying they wanted to caucus after Mr Muleya turned down their proposal, and told them they would have nullified the process by going out.
Residents started shouting saying they did not want Clr Valley as mayor and the DA called off the process.
“We are then calling it off to another day because we can’t continue like this. We can’t have candidates requesting to stop in the middle of the process,” he said.
Mr Chinobva left the council boardroom in haste as residents who were joined by a crowd that had been following proceedings from outside the boardroom, bayed for his blood.
As he left, Mr Chinobva threatened to take legal action accusing the DA and Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube of illegally stopping the process.
Party sources said Clr Dlamini had been directed by Mr Chinobva to stand for deputy mayor so Clr Valley could be mayor.
Residents want Clr Dlamini as mayor and Clr Mwale as deputy. Residents said they were disappointed by the party’s attempt to impose candidates.
“Residents have made a statement to say they are people enough to make a decision. They voted for councillors to go and make decisions for them and that includes choosing a mayor. Suddenly we see someone from Harare giving orders in the boardroom and intimidating councillors which sends a clear message that he was sent by the party. Going forward we urge all political parties never to interfere in residents’ issues,” said Victoria Falls Residents’ Association chairman Mr Morgen Dube.
Mr Lovemore Moyo, a resident said residents will not tolerate dictatorship and Ms Gladys De Souza concurred saying residents have their choice.
Town Clerk, Mr Dube, said the development was sad for Victoria Falls as it delays development. He said the council will seek direction from the parent Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on how to proceed.
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