GWERU: Tempers flared during a recent full council meeting over conferment of Freedom of the City status to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which was eventually denied.
The matter had to be settled through a vote with the anti-Mnangagwa conferment camp visibly led by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Ward 2 councillor Dr Josiah Makombe winning by nine votes to eight.
The pro-Mnangagwa conferment camp was led by Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi through a motion from Ward 9 councillor Edison Kurebgaseka and supported by six other councillors namely; Notai Dzika (Ward !), Catherine Mhondiwa (Ward 13), Farai Muza (Ward 17), Trust Chineni (Ward 15), Tawanda Magidi (Ward 16) and Charles Chikozho (Ward 10).
One councillor, Godrey Giwa did not attend the meeting.
Debating councillors were responding to a letter written to the council by Mayor Kombai dated 3 August, which proposed that President Mnangagwa be conferred with Freedom of the City status on the reason that he hails from the Midlands and also noted that his initiatives such as the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 were major contributors to the city’s progression.
The suggestion was however opposed by CCC councillors who questioned Mnangagwa’s abilities vis-à-vis the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe which they alleged was because of his misrule.
“The mayor and councillors from MDC-T wanted to give ‘Freedom of the City’ to Mnangagwa which we resisted. We resisted it on the basis that as a community, as a city, and as citizens of Gweru, there is nothing to emulate in Mnangagwa’s leadership
“Mnangagwa has not done anything worthy for the citizens. Anyone who is given the freedom award would have served exceptionally in that city. The accolade is an honour given to that kind of person and to us there is nothing tangible which Mnangagwa has done that points to him as having done something for the people of Gweru,” argued Dr Makombe to the applause of other CCC councillors.
The other group however kept pleading that the issue was not for councillors to take political sides but to consider the development that would come thereafter.
“I was trying to manage conflict management. Once elected to be a councillor, you are now representing everyone who doesn’t share political interests with you. The conferment was just meant to draw us closer to power and have our issues solved from the central government.
“Sometimes it’s not just about opposing but seeing beyond the human scope. Anyway, we have done a fair process and we are going to engage in further democratic processes,” said Kombayi in a WhatsApp audio post-meeting.
The once united Gweru council chambers got deeply divided as other councillors decided to follow the Mwonzora-led MDC while Chamisa loyalists followed him to the newly formed CCC party.