Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has distanced himself from the arrest of suspended Harare Mayor Cllr Bernard Manyenyeni saying his ministry is only concerned with the smooth running of the capital.
Minister Kasukuwere said this in the National Assembly on Wednesday evening during the second reading stage of the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill when he was responding to a barrage of criticism from MDC-T MPs who questioned the coincidence of the order by the High Court to reinstate Mr Manyenyeni and his immediate arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Bill, which seeks to provide for the suspension of mayors and councillors through the appointment of an independent tribunal, sailed through the National Assembly late on Wednesday during an emotionally charged sitting.
Minister Kasukuwere said Mr Manyenyeni’s arrest and his suspension by the Government over maladministration were two different processes that should not be mixed and were being carried out by different State arms.
“As the minister in charge of Local Government, we are only dealing with issues to do with the administration of our local authorities and in this particular case Harare. What has happened (has to do) with the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission (ZACC), which does not report to this Minister. Our hands are clean, we have nothing to do with what has befallen the mayor,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
He said it was strange that MDC-T was silent on the recent arrest of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation acting chief executive officer Mr Patrick Mavhura.
“Save also to add that a few days ago, ZACC arrested the acting chief executive officer of ZBC. The MDC never made noise, but today because they find that one of their own is in trouble, they want to blame this Government. I think we must allow our institutions to do their work and, in any case, these matters will go to court and we cannot comment on them,” he said.
“We suspended the entire council including members of Zanu-PF. We wanted to give them an opportunity to state their case before a tribunal. The same political party rushed to the courts, we also went to the courts. Yes, we lost in the courts, but we are allowed in terms of the law to appeal to the next level in terms of the law. We have appealed to the Supreme Court and that matter stands there. The fact that Kombayi is not in office is as a result of him having taken us to court and we have also gone to defend ourselves,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
He rapped MDC-T MPs for playing succession politics in the wake of reports that some senior members of the opposition party were jostling for leadership positions after it emerged that their leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai ,was unwell after being diagnosed with colon cancer.
“The colleagues on the right were not making contributions to help us in crafting a law that helps the people of this country. It was a succession game, in this party, there is a challenge. They are looking for a new leader, hence all the contributors who were coming in front; all they were doing was campaigning,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
Earlier on a scuffle erupted in the House after Zanu-PF MP Cde John Holder (Zvishavane Ngezi) charged at Kuwadzana East MP Mr Nelson Chamisa after he felt that the opposition MP had made provocative statements insinuating that some legislators were not educated.
This was after Mr Chamisa rose on a point of order in which he said he was going to read the relevant section of Standing Orders for the benefit of those who could not read. Initially Cde Holder interjected saying Mr Chamisa should withdraw his coments, but Mr Chamisa was unyielding.
It was at that stage that Cde Holder left his seat more than 10 metres and advanced towards Mr Chamisa. A scuffle then ensued while other legislators restrained the pair after sensing that there could be a brawl. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Marble Chinomona sat quietly as she waited for chief whips for political parties to calm their members.
After shoving and pushing, Cde Holder was eventually escorted back to his seat. Mr Chamisa then sought to have Cde Holder charged for disorderly conduct.
Cde Chinomona said she would need to study all evidence before making a ruling. herald