By Felix Matasva, Manicaland Correspondent
THERE was a fiery exchange on Monday at Mutare Civic Centre between Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters as seven councillors, who won municipal seats in the recently held by-elections, were sworn into office.
Councillors Edson Kalulu (ward 4), Resistance Mundembe (ward 5), Sophia Gwasira (ward 8), Crispin Dube (ward 9), Monica Mukwada (ward13), Knowledge Nyamhoka (ward 17) and Kudakwashe Chisango (ward 18) were sworn in by the city’s acting town clerk, Blessing Chafesuka.
Zanu PF councillor, Mundembe is new in council after snatching the ward 5 seat in Sakubva from CCC opponent, Simon Mapuvire.
The other six are CCC councillors who were reelected after a forced sabbatical due to whirlwind recalls by MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora.
Political party supporters were crammed in the small chambers, with some having to sit on the floor, just to witness their elected leaders taking the oath.
However, tempers flared after Zanu PF supporters started to cheer Mundembe on arrival, a few minutes before the swearing in ceremony commenced.
Former Mutare councillor, Cecilia Gambe, shouted from the ruling party’s corner, “Here is our weapon to Mapuvires’s downfall!”
Al hell broke loose after Dube, who was behind Mundembe, questioned why his own supporters were not doing the same.
“Why are you (CCC supporters) quiet, can’t you give props to me like your counterparts have done?” he queried.
CCC supporters, who constituted a large chunk of the people, started to chant party slogans, while showering praises on party leader Nelson Chamisa.
Things got worse when Mundembe was being sworn in as outnumbered staunch Zanu PF supporters started to sing revolutionary songs.
He was forced to continue taking oath unheard as ruling party and opposition supporters started throwing salvos at each other.
As CCC councillors followed in, very loud noise swept through the room as supporters got emotional, with their fierce debates nearly erupting into fist fights.
Supporters continued singing, chanting and dancing throughout the ceremony.
In his closing remarks, Mutare Mayor, Simon Chabuka, told political supporters council had compromised by allowing them inside despite that it was a special meeting.
“In a special council meeting, the general public is not allowed, but we have compromised so that you can celebrate your elected leaders. At other local authorities they are not allowing people to attend the swearing in ceremony. We know you are happy, but now that we have compromised, it is advisable to respect this place since we have esteemed guests,” Chabuka said.
“We have elderly people amongst us who deserve some respect. We must not lose control by getting overexcited. Our programme has ended and we can go and celebrate outside,” he said.
Chabuka advised political supporters to avoid engaging in violence or gather outside Civic Centre, saying they may be arrested by police for unlawful gatherings.