Chitown mayor arrested after handing himself over to police
CHITUNGWIZA mayor Lovemore Maiko was arrested yesterday on criminal abuse of office charges after he handed himself over at Harare Central Police station.
Maiko’s arrest follows a recent warning on Twitter by Information ministry spokesperson Nick Mangwana of the imminent arrest of senior Chitungwiza council officials over allegations of stifling the ongoing corruption probe at town house.
According to documents in possession of Zim Community News what triggered the arrest was a recent special council meeting at which councillors allegedly illegally smuggled self-serving agendas.
The bone of contention is a supplementary agenda that led to the adoption of a recommendation to demote Tendai Chinganga from the estates department and join the library and make Alex Mukwewa the housing manager.
Mukwewa is currently before the courts on criminal abuse of office charges after he allegedly pegged and sold industrial stands on a wetland.
However the mayor yesterday told Zim Community News that the arrest was a ploy to pave way for the return of suspended town clerk George Makunde.
He said his ordeal begun on Friday when he went to Makoni Police station were he was told there was no warrant of arrest for him.
“I was today called by a Mutumbi at Central, I went there and that’s when I was arrested and the allegations are that we held a meeting without following Section 84, but this meeting was convened by the acting chamber secretary and acting town clerk who said they was an urgent matter from the ministry.
“I am only a ceremonial mayor, not an executive, decisions are made by council not me
Maiko said in at the meeting both management and councillors agreed to deal with issues from committees and recommendations with timelines.
“It was Mrs Machona (acting town clerk) who read the recommendations, and there was also an issue concerning a salary increment for management.
“Now they are charging me with criminal abuse of office as if I am the one who convened the meeting, the full council adopted the recommendations, now they are saying I am the one to blame?
“They are saying Chinganga was part of the investigations taskforce on corruption, but we are not aware of that, we only know him as a council worker.
Maiko added that he was being victimised for chairing a meeting that stopped the recent demolition excise that was declared illegal by the courts.
However, a council official said that a Public Works Committee meeting was convened on 27 October 2020, where out of the blue the meeting discussed the reassignment of Chinganga from the estates department to the library, a lower grade post, from Grade 12 to Grade 10 level.
He added that Section 84(3) and (4) of the Urban Councils Act provides that “The mayor may, at any time, and at the request in writing of not less than one-third of the total membership of the council or of six councillors, whichever is the less, shall, within fourteen days of such request, call a special meeting of the council.
(4) Written notice of any special meeting called in terms of subsection (3) shall be sent to each councillor at least twenty-four hours before the meeting and shall specify the object of the meeting, and no matters, other than those specified in that notice, shall be discussed at that special meeting.”
“I am not sure whether in this instance they proceeded as per the advice of the Chamber Secretary or Acting Town Clerk. It would appear they proceeded against the advice of the Acting Town Clerk.
After the recommendation for Chinganga’s “reassignment” a special full Council meeting was hastily held and the issue was smuggled into the agenda, the official said.
“The agenda was produced approximately two hours before the meeting as an addendum in violation of section 84 (4) of the Urban Councils Act.
“I strongly suspect that the proposed ‘reassignment’ was nothing but pure victimisation on Chinganga’s person.”
The official added that some councillors present at the meeting were believed to have been part of the team that attempted to physically harm Chinganga two weeks ago.
The official said the councilors were attempting to stifle the ongoing investigation on housing matters.
“I am not aware of an act of misconduct that may have given rise to this transfer. What is more sinister is that the transfer is being initiated at the behest of councillors which in itself is usurpation of the town clerk’s mandate.