Local government Minister, July Moyo, has suspended the Harare City Council Mayor, Councillor Jacob Mafume, together with his deputy, Cllr Luckson Mukunguma, with immediate effect over various allegations of corruption.
Insiders told the Zim Morning Post that letters of suspensions were written last week on Thursday and are likely to be delivered to their recipients this Monday.
Zim Morning Post was told that the minister saw it fit to suspend the two until their court cases are finalised. Said the source:
This is done to make sure the two do not interfere with state witnesses or temper with evidence.
Mafume is currently in remand prison after he was arrested six days after getting his bail on allegations of trying to bribe a potential state witness in violation of his bail conditions.
He was first arrested by the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU), in November over criminal abuse of office for allegedly allocating Westlea stands on council land to his sister Rotina Mafume and his law firm’s secretary Rutendo Muvuti without following the correct council processes.
Mukunguma is currently out on bail after he was arrested in December following a manhunt by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
ZACC alleges that Mukunguma, who is facing allegations of selling stands in Highfield without following due procedure, went into hiding after being invited for questioning.
The source who spoke to Zim Morning Post predicted that the suspension of both the Mayor and his deputy is likely to lead to the appointment of a commission which will run the affairs of Harare City until the 2023 elections. Said the source:
After the suspension, the minister is going to institute a dissolution of the whole council and move to appoint a commission to run the city council.
The development comes days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa had said the central government would soon do something to rescue mismanaged urban councils. He said:
We sat down and agreed to rescue the situation so that our cities do not collapse totally so soon something along those lines will start happening.
MDC Alliance-dominated local government authorities have often been accused of failing to provide residents and ratepayers with public goods and services.
On their part, city fathers blame poor service delivery on interference by the central government.