Harare mayoral saga: Mwonzora, Mafume clash over legitimacy of 2017 MDC Alliance agreement

LAST week’s Harare in-house mayoral election conducted at Town House by the City Fathers to select former mayor Herbert Gomba’s replacement (following the latter’s ejection from office) may have left a sour taste in the mouth of the entire MDC-T political clique.

Mayor Gomba’s recall by the MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, came after the country’s Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled that Nelson Chamisa’s ascendancy to the helm of the main opposition party was irregular and arbitrary, also adjudging that his MDC Alliance party was a mere 2018 electoral pact of several opposition parties (and therefore a nonentity at law).

The ConCourt judgment has, however, apparently done little to mitigate the power struggles within the main opposition party ranks.

There are now fears that the MDC-T could recall more councillors and cause the Zanu PF government to impose a commission to run the city’s affairs.

This will not be the first time such a thing would have happened.

The Solomon Tawengwa and Susan Makwavarara commissions came with a lot of hope, but all left a trail of disaster in their wake.

Following the loss of MDC-T mayoral candidate, Luckson Mukunguma to Jacob Mafume of the MDC Alliance, Zim Morning Post spoke with MDC-T national chairperson, Morgen Komichi, who appeared conciliatory:

“That is democracy at work.

“We will not make any further recalls and allow for a scenario that will allow Zanu PF to set up a commission to run the affairs of Harare.

“The MDC-T is, however, going to sit down as a party and map a way forward,” he said then.

But now, word is doing the rounds that the MDC-T is looking at exploiting a clause which constituted the MDC Alliance, allowing it to remain as a loose coalition of various political parties.

The clause in question reportedly enjoins parties to this loose coalition to allow candidates from the party with the majority number of councillors (in this instance the MDC-T) to stand for the post of mayor at all material times.

Zim Morning Post, however, spoke with the current Harare mayor, Mafume, who dismissed the alleged MDC-T view as a wrongful interpretation of the law:

“The law says a mayor will be voted for at a special council meeting and that the candidate is voted by councillors.

“It is a secret ballot. The councillors that are in council are not known by political affiliation.

“A Zanu PF councillor could easily have become mayor. An indipendent councillor could (also) easily have become mayor.

“A mayor is voted for by councillors. Period.

“A mayor is not brought into existence by any agreement.

“That is why a political party or person can easily and simply nominate anybody.

“A mayor comes into existence by virtue of the provisions of the Local Government Act and not by any (other) agreement that you might have with somebody for any undue influence.

“A secret ballot is exactly that; a secret ballot.

“It is not supposed to be influenced by anything (else); money, agreements or whatever process that is outside the conduct of that secret ballot.”

Zim Morning Post also spoke to MDC-T national chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora to get his perspective of the mayoral issue:

“An operational agreement was made on August 5, 2017 by parties to the Alliance.

“The agreement, which is legally binding and expressed in writing says the MDC-T shall always provide a mayor in Harare if, as expected, it got the majority councillors with Tendai Biti’s PDP party taking the deputy mayorship.

“This is why the candidacy for councillor of Mt Pleasant was reserved for Mafume.”

Asked by this publication if the MDC-T was going to appeal against the election of Mafume as mayor of Harare on that basis, Mwonzora said:

“It is one of the multi-pronged approach we are going to use to get a redress.”