Chamisa defends controversial expulsions on party mayors

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By Leopold Munhende

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has defended his expulsion of some party mayors from their lofty council jobs saying they were colluding with the enemy to defy party directives.

Chamisa said the harsh decision was a pre-emptive strategy to avoid the same party officials working with Zanu PF to perpetuate corruption within their councils.

He was addressing party supporters during the main opposition’s 19th anniversary celebrations in Harare weekend.

The MDC leader revealed some party loyalists were questioning his decision to expel party officials who were ironically elected through processes endorsed by residents.

“We then realised that these were people we could not work with because once you work with Zanu PF, we will discipline you,” Chamisa said, adding “We do not want Zanu PF influence in our councils because it is influence of corruption and manipulating the people.

“Discipline is very important. We told them in Masvingo, Victoria Falls and Chegutu that we will continue to do so until they put forward a mayor who was chosen by the people.”

Expelled were Victoria Falls mayor Somvelo Dlamini, Masvingo mayor Collen Maboke, Chegutu mayor Henry Muchatibaya and six of his councillors for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute.

The decision to give them the boot, Chamisa said, came after the officials had allegedly solicited for votes from some Zanu PF councillors in defiance of party directives to relinquish standing for the top council jobs.

None of the three expelled mayors attended Saturday’s celebrations.

However, Godfrey Kurauone, the preferred candidate for Masvingo’s mayoral job, looked in jovial spirits as he followed proceedings from one of the reserved VIP tents.

When the mayors were elected against party wishes, they were initially asked to step down from office but resisted the move.

Although there were earlier indications that an amicable solution had been found, MDC’s decision to fire them exposed the friction between the party’s senior leadership and its lower ranks.

Chamisa, whose take-over as MDC leader February this year was marred by chaotic scenes that led to a party split, is keen to tighten his control of the country’s second biggest party.

Critics say he was keen to rally a pliant followership within lower rungs of his party’s leadership so that he could keep his influential job as opposition chief.

However, his decision to shake MDC led authorities could also be informed to past experiences in which MDC officials deployed to councils have turned around and become more loyal to Zanu PF Local Government Ministers at the expense of the opposition.