Sadc summit saves Vic Falls council boss from demo

The resort city of Victoria Falls lies within the jurisdiction of Hwange district in Matabeleland North.

Police this week blocked a plan by Hwange District Residents Association (HWADRA) to stage a march against the extension of Victoria Falls town clerk Ronnie Dube’s term, in a new twist to the protracted dispute.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, a HWADRA member said authorities were concerned that a demonstration would be bad for the country ahead of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) summit set for next month.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa will assume the chairmanship of the regional bloc at the summit.

The extension of Dube’s term violates the government’s corporate governance framework.

The resort city of Victoria Falls lies within the jurisdiction of Hwange district in Matabeleland North.

As previously reported by the Independent, Dube, whose term officially ends in February next year, wrote to Victoria Falls mayor Prince Thuso requesting that his contract be extended.

He said another term would give him a chance to complete several projects currently underway.

In the latest development, which is part of the Independent’s investigation on the financial and corporate governance affairs of local authorities, HWADRA chairperson Herbet Ncube confirmed that requests for the demo had been turned down.

“After holding a meeting with the police, the situation on the ground is such that they cannot allow a peaceful march, the reason being that it will set a precedent to others,” Ncube said.

“We are supposed to get the chairing role of Sadc and our President is the incoming chairperson so we do not want a chaotic situation. It may be hijacked by malcontents. We understood their position.”

In a letter dated June 26 addressed to the police officer commanding Hwange district seen by the Independent HWADRA said another term would be a setback to the city’s development.

“HWADRA intends to hold a peaceful march … to culminate in handing over a letter to the mayor of the City of Victoria Falls,” the letter reads.

The residents would also petition the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to register their reservations.

“We are going to write to them noting why we are not happy with the extension.

“Our position is that we are not happy. We are opposed to the extension because it does not augur well with the development of Victoria Falls. The law is very clear that a sitting town clerk is only supposed to do two terms — end of story,” Ncube highlighted.

Another letter handed to Thuso yesterday said they were unhappy with a range of several other issues.

The letter reads: “We are reliably informed that the town clerk has written to you seeking renewal of his contract. This is unlawful. The laws and policies of the land prescribe a maximum of two terms only for the town clerk. Any violation of this policy will leave us with no choice but to defend our city.

“We are also informed that the town clerk is making overtures to arm twist council to buy him another vehicle, less than three years after receiving a car loan for the same purpose. We demand that the council should not renew the contract of the town clerk and buy him a new car …”

The correspondence was undersigned by Ncube.

Thuso said yesterday’s letter had not reached his desk.

Dube’s request, which has since been granted, much to the ire of residents and councillors, violates circular 86 of 2014 which stipulates that town clerks cannot serve for more than 10 years.

Repeated efforts by the Independent to understand how the local government and public works ministry is addressing cases of local authorities defying its corporate governance framework have drawn blanks.

Dube’s letter dated May 25 to Thuso seen by the Independent indicates that the town clerk, among other recommendations to pave the way for the extension of his term, suggested that the city could ignore circular 86.

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