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  • Writer's pictureNgoni Mangoma

Confusion at Council as Suspended Mayor Bounces Back

Senior Reporter

Councillor for Ward 17 (Mount Pleasant), Jacob Mafume has bounced back as Mayor of Harare at Townhouse after a failed previous attempt in June. Mayor Mafume was suspended on corruption allegations in January, based on findings of a report by the Local Government and Public Works Ministry investigation team last December in line with Section 114 (2) of the Urban Councils Act.

Though Mayor Mafume’s corruption charges are still pending in court, his suspension at Council has since lapsed without any formal disciplinary action taken by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, thereby paving the way for his self-reinstatement as the Mayor of Harare.

However, several media outlets have reported that the Mayor’s unceremonious return to work has led to confusion at the City of Harare head office, with the council failing to hold a full council meeting on 19 August and another one that was re-scheduled for 24 August due to the alleged “mayoral chaos”. This is largely because management was said to be unclear about whether to report to Acting Mayor Musarurwa Mutizwa or to Mayor Mafume.

Director of the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) Precious Shumba said that service delivery was now being affected as the council was failing to make resolutions due to uncertainty and confusion over who was in charge. “Public policy is a shared responsibility and it can only be more effectively done if there is clarity on who the mayor is. Councillors are unable to effectively play their oversight role through meetings of council committees and the full council.

“Central Government -in particular the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works - is pretending to be busy elsewhere when they are the ones who caused the confusion in the first place when they suspended Mayor Mafume on the basis that he was facing criminal charges,” said Shumba. However, Shumba went on to explain that Mayor Mafume’s suspension was legitimate because residents expect to see any accused councillor be first cleared by the courts before they can resume their official council duties as policymakers.

In an interview with Harare News earlier this week, the returning Mayor Mafume rubbished claims of squabbling at Townhouse and maintains that he's coming back to lead the City as Mayor was above board. “The suspension ended by operation of law. Councillor Mutizwa is an alderman, he understands council procedures very well. There are no squabbles at all. How can the Acting Mayor act when the Mayor is there? It is not possible,” said Mayor Mafume.

The Mayor went on to reinforce his reclaimed Mayoral position saying, “We are continuing with the work of assisting the residents on service delivery, on issues of roads and refuse collection.”

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