Vic Falls Town Councillors At Each Other’s Throats Over Town Clerk’s Suspension

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

THE recent suspension of corruption-accused Victoria Falls city town clerk Ronnie Dube by mayor Somveli Dlamini has caused a rift within power corridors of the local authority as councillors are divided over how to proceed, and finalise the issue.

Chamber secretary Kholani Mangena is acting Town Clerk.

The majority of the councillors have expressed dissatisfaction over Dube’s suspension, and have demanded that he be reinstated immediately while his pending criminal charges continue before the courts and council.

According to a report of a full council meeting held on June 1, some councillors implored Dlamini to reinstate Dube saying charges levelled against him were unclear.

“The mayor should withdraw suspension given to the town clerk to allow council to debate on the possibility of forced leave so that the town clerk continues to receive his salary and benefits while investigations are being done,” said one councillor according to the minutes.

Dlamini suspended Dube with pay and benefits on April 28, 2021 accusing him of “corruption, gross incompetence, abuse of office and causing the local authority to lose revenue”.

He was a few days later arrested and appeared in court in Hwange where was granted a $50 000 bail on a charge of criminal abuse of office.

Councillors quickly met after his release, and reversed the suspension, but Local Government Minister July Moyo on May 14 verbally suspended Dube.

However, during a recent council meeting, Dlamini formally presented to council, Dube’s suspension letter dated May 24, 2021 seeking the council to discuss and adopt the suspension.

According to the report of the minutes, Dlamini told his colleagues and management the suspension was done in terms of the Urban Councils Act and will be without salary and benefits.

He said this was done through a verbal instruction from Minister Moyo on May 13, 2021, based on a press statement released by government on January 7, 2021 that senior government officials attending court cases as accused persons should be suspended from work to pave way for investigations.

However, the councillors countered this, arguing that in terms of the labour laws, a suspension cannot be indefinite.

They resolved to form a five-member commission of inquiry comprising former Victoria Falls mayor Nkosilathi Jiyane, ex-councillors Vusumuzi Moyo and Million Moyo, Hwange Rural District Council chief executive Phindile Ncube and lawyer Elvis Mashindi.

The commission is expected to determine whether there are merits on the allegations levelled against Dube.

It will present its findings next week.

Dlamini told the councillors the terms of reference for the commission were deliberately done in secrecy based on advice from head office (Local Government Ministry) that decreed “all business relating to the inquiry shall be treated in confidence and all the findings shall only be communicated to the mayor of Victoria Falls.”

However, the lone resolution worried other councillors who felt they were being overlooked by their boss.

The councillors then resolved Dube’s suspension be premised on Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006 so he could receive his salary pending finalisation of his case.