Internal discord among Bulawayo councillors over imposed mayoral candidates

Bulawayo Mayor David Coltart

Bulawayo’s city councillors are set to convene tomorrow to elect the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the city. However, there are reports of pressure being exerted on Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, by civic society leaders to impose their preferred candidates.

The Bulawayo City Council confirmed the special council meeting for the election, with the public invited to observe the proceedings. The opposition party had initially endorsed specific candidates, but indications suggest a change in Advocate Chamisa’s stance, allowing councillors to elect individuals of their choice.

Advocate Chamisa had endorsed ward four councillor and former Education Minister, David Coltart, for the mayoral position, and ward five councillor, Octavius Dumisani Nkomo, as the deputy mayor. Notably, both candidates had lost in the candidate selection process before the harmonized elections but were imposed by Advocate Chamisa. However, there is now internal discord among the newly elected councillors, with some considering deviating from the party directive and electing Clr Nkomo as the new Mayor. Civic society has reportedly backed Clr Nkomo for the position.

Advocate Chamisa is expected to communicate his decision on the mayoral and deputy mayoral positions during a party caucus at their Bulawayo offices today. He had initially agreed to let councillors elect their own Deputy Mayor but has faced mounting pressure from former and current civic leaders. The evolving situation suggests that Clr Nkomo, who hails from civic society, might be considered for either the mayoral or deputy mayoral post. Meanwhile, pressure from other sections of society questions the justification of Clr Coltart being given the mayoral position without a competitive process.

Former Mayor Solomon Mguni (MDC) has urged the councillors to guard against imposition and prioritize the interests of the residents who elected them. He emphasized their right as councillors to elect a Mayor and Deputy Mayor of their choice, as dictated by democracy and the Urban Councils Act. Mguni highlighted that the mayoral post is ceremonial, with executive powers derived from council committees and resolutions. He encouraged councillors to focus on their respective wards and collectively deliver on the aspirations of the people.

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