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What is between Chombo, Makwavarara?
Faith Zaba, The Tribune
June 02, 2004

Parliament burst out into laughter when Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa asked Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo what he found in acting Harare mayor Sekesai Makwavarara that made him continue to subvert democratic processes.

Even Chombo could not help but smile at the question, which Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa said was not a policy issue. Chombo this week suspended 13 MDC councilors for defying a ministerial directive not to conduct elections to choose a deputy mayor, who would have replaced Makwavarara.

Makwavarara resigned from MDC early this year after her party ordered her to relinquish her post as acting mayor in protest against the dismissal of elected mayor Elias Mudzuri.

Chombo had issued a directive saying no elections would be held until 2006. The acting mayor is currently residing in a council rented house in Gunhill and is driving a council vehicle.

On another related question, Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa asked Chombo if it was government policy to victimise and make people suffer in cities won by opposition parties.

He also wanted to know if it was government policy to use the Minister of Local Government as an instrument to deal with the opposition in Zimbabwe. Chombo said all local authorities were governed by the Urban Councils Act. He said any person who violated the rules and regulations prescribed in the legislation would be dealt with.

"The Minister of Local Government is the one who is mandated to superintend and implement the Urban Councils Act and all local authorities," Chombo said.

Earlier, before Chombo arrived in Parliament, Harare North MP Trudy Stevenson had asked the acting Leader of the House, Joseph Made if it was government policy to violate legislation like the Urban Councils Act, which she said provided for elections every year.

She said the government interfered with the democratic process in Harare when it prevented the council from conducting the elections to choose a deputy mayor and councillors to various committees.

In response, Made failed to give an adequate answer, but instead spoke at length about how MDC has mobilised its councillors and about how his government would not tolerate such actions.

"The government will not stand back and allow a situation where the generality of the population suffers as a result of that. As soon as you realise that you have got to approach each area with that reasonableness, the government will not stand by.

"Ultimately at the end of the day it is government's responsibility to make sure that there is peace and tranquility and that the population does enjoy the services that are supposed to be provided," said Made to interjections.

Seeing no connection between the response and the question, Gwanda North MP Paul Themba-Nyathi asked Made what question he was responding to. In an attempt to justify the response, Made said he was responding to comments made in the question about democracy.

"So if you attach some other comments to your question that are not really related to the issues that you are raising and insinuating that we are there to ignore our own Acts, that is not the case and that is not our policy," he said. On another issue St Mary's Member of Parliament Job Sikhala called on all Zimbabweans to openly debate the person who should succeed President Robert Mugabe.

He told Parliament this week that this person, whether he is from Zanu PF or his party MDC, should be "new blood".

Sikhala was contributing to debate in which the House was congratulating the recently elected Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika and expressing its appreciation for the peaceful atmosphere that surrounded the elections.

"I urge people of Zimbabwe to openly debate who should take over the reigns of power in our country and which new blood should run this country. I do not care whether that new blood comes from Zanu PF or MDC.

"The new blood should run the country in a manner not in old fashioned liberation war movement type of rulership that is similar in some of the despot countries. We urge some of our unrepentant brothers in Africa who still want to cling to power forever, to learn lessons from a new crop of leaders. I would also urge others in the different political parties that when we are injecting new blood we must be free to debate about," he said.

Debating the same motion, Gokwe North MP Eleck Mkandla of Zanu PF thanked the Malawian government for inviting the Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa to witness the election process.

"I would like to thank the people of Zimbabwe for giving better advice to Malawi by allowing to include the Speaker of Parliament in their processes. If they did not believe in us, they would not have invited us.

"I would like to say that all leaders are chosen by God and the Malawian people were given a leader by God. Even us we were given our leaders by God," he said.

He said like the people in Malawi who lost the election, MDC should learn to accept defeat.

"You talk and talk and rather than discussing issues of development in your country. If you want a leader of tomorrow you need to learn from other countries and from international laws," Mkandla said.

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