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Case of suspended Chitungwiza town councillors must be heard urgently

Chitungwiza town councillors have gone for sixty-three days without being brought before an independent tribunal. The twenty five councillors including the mayor and his deputy were suspended by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on 27 April 2017. The affairs of the municipality have been running through a three-member caretaker council appointed by the ministry in terms of section 80(1) of the Urban Councils Act. The caretaker council is chaired by Madzudzo Pawadyira. The caretaker council is according to a ministerial directive referenced X/8/35 supposed to focus on restoring order to the operations of the council.

The Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) notes with concern the implications of both the suspension of councillors and the appointment of the caretaker council on the state of service delivery in the town. The other point of concern is the lack of adherence to the provisions of the law by the ministry in failing to bring the suspended councillors before an independent tribunal within the stipulated time-frame as enshrined under section 114(4) of the amended Urban Councils Act.

In this window period of uncertainty where the residents and other stakeholders are not clear of the status of the suspended councillors and their failure to locate the role of the caretaker council in the improvement of service delivery and restoring order in the town, some unscrupulous elements are involved in illegal activities such as
invading and developing open spaces into residential areas. Chitrest has witnessed a new wave of land invasion in some parts of Unit J, adjacent to Surface Wilmar Investments. A street light was dismantled at a bus stop at the corner of Chaminuka and Hombarume roads in St Mary’s to pave way for the construction of a service station in the
midst of a residential suburb. The service station will pose danger to the lives of the residents whose properties are in close proximity to it and the removal of the street light will expose those who use public transport at night.

Chitrest is seeking the immediate restoration of the rule of law in Chitungwiza by the Ministry through facilitating that the suspended councillors are brought before an independent tribunal so that those that are caught on the wrong side of the law are accordingly prosecuted. We call for the municipality to bring to an end the new wave of land invasion in the town as it is impacting heavily on infrastructural facilities including roads, sewer pipes and others.

Fredy Njeje

fredynjeje@live.com

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