Saturday 1 September 2018


THE swearing in ceremony of Bulawayo City Councillors yesterday degenerated into chaos with activists aligned to the Mthwakazi Republic Party baying for the blood of one of the MDC Alliance councillors who took his oath of office in a drunken stupor.

So violent were the activists that one of them slapped Ward 24 councillor, Arnold Batirai, who was not only drunk but came in late, well after all the other councillors had made their oaths.

Clr Batirai made a grand entrance into council chambers spotting a colourful blue suit and demanded that residents let him through as the council chambers were unusually packed with residents anticipating that after the swearing in ceremony, the councillors would proceed to elect the new mayor and deputy mayor.

He then recited his oath in Shona much to the disgruntlement of the activists who started shouting obscenities at the councillor, briefly disrupting proceedings.

After the meeting came to a close, members of the public charged towards Clr Batirai, lifted him from his chair by the collar as they vowed not to allow him to sit in council chambers. As the councillor tried to fight back, shouting at the crowd that they had no right to eject him, one of the activists was spotted slapping Clr Batirai, who fell into his chair helplessly.

The city’s town clerk, Mr Christopher Dube and council officials tried in vain to plead with the protestors not to manhandle the councillor. While other councillors tried to restrain Clr Batirai, he chose to ignore them in his drunken stupor, defiantly shouting back at the charging crowd that they could not do anything to him.

Others were overheard blaming Clr Batirai for incensing the residents.
The activists later addressed a mini-rally outside the Large City Hall where they vowed to attend the next council meeting on Tuesday where councillors will be electing the new mayor and deputy mayor.

The MDC Alliance won all 29 council seats in Bulawayo during the July 30 harmonised elections.
In an interview after the chaotic scenes, the city’s chamber secretary, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou, said while they would put in place all measures to ensure the Tuesday meeting goes ahead, councillors were free to use any language of their choice during council debates.

“We normally use the language that is understood by most people, but all 16 languages recognised in the constitution are permissible, although Ndebele and English remain the main languages spoken in the city.

“After the swearing in ceremony, the councillors will have their first meeting on Tuesday, September 5 at 4PM which will be the inaugural council of 2018 to 2023. In terms of the Constitution, that first meeting will be chaired by the Provincial Administrator for Bulawayo Metropolitan province and it is at that meeting when the 29 will vote for one of their own to be mayor of Bulawayo and another to be deputy” said Mrs Zhou.

She said only the 29 elected councillors would cast a vote for a mayor and the deputy mayor. According to Mrs Zhou, the meeting will be held in council chambers and despite murmurings from the public, the venue was not going to be changed.

“It is unfortunately too small to host all residents of Bulawayo but it is where all council meetings will be held.

“All meetings are open to the public and we will do our best to accommodate those that we can accommodate,” she said.

Mrs Zhou said the battered councillor had a right to attend the Tuesday meeting and that the local authority would ensure that he attends.

Meanwhile, by yesterday it was still not clear who councillors will vote for come Tuesday as interested councillors were still canvassing for votes from their colleagues.

Clr Solomon Mguni is thus far the frontrunner for the mayoral position as he has the backing of the MDC Alliance president, Mr Nelson Chamisa while for the deputy mayor position it’s a race to the wire between Clr Mlandu Ncube and Clr Tinashe Kambarami.

The MDC Alliance recently held interviews for interested candidates to fill the two positions.
However, the election of the mayor and deputy mayor has been divisive with the MDC-T leadership meddling in the process instead of allowing councillors to exercise their democratic right to choose desired candidates. Chronicle


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