Councillors fired over graft bounce back as CCC candidates

Stephen Chadenga

Two former Gweru councillors who were fired by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T more than a decade ago for alleged corruption have resurfaced as Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidates for the 2023 harmonised elections set for 23 August.

Tedious Chimombe, the former Gweru mayor and Ward 12 councillor, and Kumbirai Rutsvara—who was the Ward 11 council representative—were expelled in 2012 together with 10 other councillors for allegedly taking part in corrupt land deals.

They were councillors under the 2009-2013 government of national unity following the 2008 elections, whose presidential race went for a run-off in June of the same year after a tight contest between Tsvangirai and the late Robert Mugabe in the first round in March.

Both Chimombe and Rutsvara successfully filed their nomination papers at Town House in the Midlands capital last week. .

Despite their expulsions, the councillors insisted that they were innocent victims of political victimisation by senior MDC-T officials during intense intra-party jockeying during the same period.

Chimombe insisted he did not appear before a disciplinary committee as the party constitution required,

While Chimombe and the other councillors who the MDC-T leadership had accused of corruption were never arrested, a subsequent land audit unearthed dodgy land deals involving both management and councillors that prejudiced council of more than US$10 million.

Council officials were accused of unprocedurally selling or disposing of land.

The murky land deals at Gweru City Council were also captured in the 2018 auditor general report, which noted that stands valued at over $1,7 million were sold yet the local authority failed to provide supporting documents for all stands sold, the beneficiaries and receipts of the transactions.

She also revealed that councillors whose term of office had ended in 2018 were yet to pay for stands sold on concessionary rates before the expiry of their tenure.

Despite his expulsion, Chimombe, who had then reportedly gained favour with former Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo, remained as mayor until the expiry of the GNU in 2013 and subsequent elections that took place in July.

He was rewarded with a Prado, which an official council vehicle which he used as mayor, in addition to a large commercial stand.

In 2013, the former mayor stood as an independent parliamentary candidate for Gweru Urban but lost.

Speaking to Newshub after filing his nomination papers, Chimombe said CCC was a new party that welcomed everyone despite past politics.

“What happened in then MDC-T more than 10 years ago was party internal strife and it’s over,” he said. “I was never convicted of corruption and l am back representing CCC and ready to serve the residents of Ward 12.”

He said he had passed the CCC candidate selection process and was therefore fit to contest for the seat.

But Gweru Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association director, David Chikore, urged the electorate to “vote with caution” given high levels of corruption at the municipality.

“As much as it is the democratic right of those once tainted with corruption to contest in the elections, we expect the electorate to make informed choices, “he said.

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