MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa yesterday suffered a blow after former Gweru mayor and Ward 1 councillor, Mr Hamutendi Kombayi, who is aligned to Mr Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T party, bounced back as the city’s mayor.
Following elections held at Town House Clr Kombayi polled 11 votes under the MDC-T ticket against Mr Martin Chivhoko (Ward 4) of MDC-A who polled four votes.
Kombayi, son to the late businessman and first black mayor of Gweru, Mr Patrick Kombayi, was first elected the mayor of Gweru in 2013 before he was fired by the then Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Saviour Kasukuwere on corruption allegations.
There was one spoilt vote after a councillor wrote a statement on the ballot saying the councillors had to go by MDC-T leader Mr Douglas Mwonzora’s directive to elect Mr Kombayi to save their jobs.
“Tingadodii regai Kombayi hake apinde tingadzingwa naMwonzora (What can we do? Let Kombayi be the mayor otherwise we will be recalled by Mwonzora),” read the statement on the spoilt ballot. The election for the mayor was done through a secret ballot and was presided over by Gweru District Development Coordinator Mr Ndeya Nyede.
After consulting with Clr Kombayi and Clr Chivhoko, the house agreed that the ballot be counted as a vote for the new mayor.
In his acceptance speech, Clr Kombayi called for unity of purpose among councillors and management.
Acting town clerk Mr Douglas Chikwekwe said the elections were held in accordance with the Urban Councils Act.
“We are just doing what the law prescribes. We now have a new mayor and we hope to continue working together for the greater good of Gweru. The ratepayers and residents want development. They want service delivery,” said Mr Chikwekwe.
Clr Chivhoko accepted defeat and pledged to work with other councillors.
“This is how we need to work for us to improve our city. We need to work together as one unit.
Clr Kombayi will be deputised by Clr Cleopas Shiri who was acting mayor since December when the Mwonzora led MDC-T recalled Clr Makombe.