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    Friday, 10 August 2018

    Gweru residents in hot debate over next mayor

    Cleopas Shiri



    Hamutendi Kombayi.



    Charles Chikozho.


    ELIZABETH MASHIRI
    MIDLANDS BUREAU

    GWERU – It's a done deal. The next Gweru City Mayor and the whole council is MDC Alliance.
    The next question is who will be the mayor? Residents of the country's third largest city have taken to social media and there is hot debate on three possible candidates; Hamutendi Kombayi, Charles Chikozho who is the last mayor and Cleopas Shiri the new councillor for Ward 5 who is the dark horse.
    MDC Alliance spokesperson for Midlands Province, Munyaradzi Mutandavari said that the party believes in democracy and he assumed that is how the question of the next mayor would be resolved.
    In 2013 there was a lot of controversy over the election of the new mayor. MDC T led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai preferred Charles Chikozho as its candidate and had instructed its 12 councillors in the 18-member chamber to vote for him.
    However, Kombayi defied the party decision and contested. He won the support of six Zanu PF councillors and some from MDC T to defeat the party decision. Kombayi became the mayor. Kombayi was suspended midway through his term by the then Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere and Chikozho later became the acting mayor.
    Members of various social media groups quarreled  over the qualities of the three.
    Those who are against Kombayi claimed that the businessman whose father was the first black mayor of Gweru is childish and a drunkard. They said the fact that he was suspended during his previous tenure is one example of his poor leadership qualities.
    They claimed that Kombayi was so childish that at one time he went to the UK dressed in  his mayoral regalia while drinking from public bars. They also claimed that he posted the  pictures on social media.
    Kombayi who is the councillor for Ward 1 could not be reached for a comment.
    Those who supported Chikozho, the councillor for Ward 10 said that Chikozho has ideas on how to develop the city and he is level-headed 
    When asked for a comment Chikozho said he was not at liberty to talk about the mayoral position as his party was still dealing with presidential issues.
    Others argued that Shiri is the best candidate because he is the most educated one.
    Kombayi was born in 1977. His father, the late Patrick Kombayi was a veteran of the liberation struggle who supported Zanla forces with resources in Zambia and Mozambique. The late Kombayi was shot and nearly died during the 1990 elections in Gweru after he fought Zanu PF from the opposition ranks.
    Kombayi went to Gokomere High School and in Gweru at Chaplin from 1990- 1994. Currently he is running the Midlands Hotel and managing several buildings his father left behind.
    Chikozho was born in 1962. He is a paralegal by profession and is currently the ZCTU regional cordinator.
    Shiri was born in 1968. He is a teacher by profession and is also a holder of a Degree in Local Government. He is currently pursuing a masters in Local Government. He is into construction and is the executive director of Gertrude Gweru East Development Trust. 
    "Councillors and mayors are the party's face in local government and their performance determines the party's future in elections. 
    "During the inclusive government MDC failed to live up to expectations." Its record in local government did not elevate it. 
    "As a party of excellence, with character it's obvious that this time around a mayor is going to be chosen amongst those who possess exceptional leadership qualities. We want someone with integrity, a team player with knowledge of local authorities. We will also consider maturity of the person in particular one's character," said Mutandavari
    Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association president Cornilia Selipiwe said Chikozho was exemplary when he was appointed acting mayor. He said however, that his association was going to welcome whoever is elected.

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