Victoria Falls councillors on Monday defied their leader, Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), and voted for a mayor and deputy of their choice.
The 11-ward city is dominated by the CCC, which has 10 out of 11 elected councillors and three Women’s Quota representatives.
After a disruptive meeting last week, in which residents blocked the election citing the imposition of candidates by Chamisa, the council reconvened on Monday and elected Ward 7 councillor Prince Thuso Moyo as mayor and Ward 3 councillor Lungile Nyoni as his deputy.
Residents had said they would rather have a local “Munizi” (descendant of Hwange districts) as mayor than an outsider.
Chamisa had wanted Ward 1 councillor Ephias Mambume to become mayor and deputised by Ward 8 councillor Priscilah Mhlanga.
Residents vowed never to allow that to happen, and on Monday, all the CCC councillors except for Mambume convened an urgent meeting behind closed doors in the morning with the party’s Matabeleland North chair, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, where they resolved to elect Cllr Moyo and Cllr Nyoni unopposed.
The election was held in the afternoon after an earlier adjourned meeting in the morning due to the absence of the councillors.
Cllr Moyo has been in the centre of a corruption storm in the last council tenure, where he fronted corruption deals involving sale of land on behalf of other councillors. At some stage, residents had wanted him not voted back into council.
Police and council on Monday intensified security in fear of a repeat of last week’s violent scenes, and only a handful of residents were allowed into council.
Residents’ leaders Kelvin Moyo and others were also picked by police on Saturday for causing violence and released on the same day after they were reported to have been having a meeting plotting against Chamisa’s preferred candidate.
In his acceptance speech, the new mayor, who is Managing Director of Platform Trading and Fruit and Vegetable Market, promised to address water challenges affecting the city.
“I want to thank the outgoing mayor Somveli Dlamini, councillors, Town Clerk Ronnie Dube and his management for efforts made to make sure Victoria Falls attains its goal to be a smart green city,” he said.
“One of the greatest challenges of the city is water and we need to combine efforts with management and Victoria Falls stakeholders for possible funding. I am informed that the previous council was implementing a US$4 million reservoir project and once completed the issue of water will be a thing of the past,” he said.
Already flexing his muscle, Cllr Moyo ordered political parties and candidates in the recent harmonised elections to remove their campaign posters, which he said remained an eyesore to the tourism city.
His deputy, Cllr Nyoni, is employed by a local tour operating company and runs Rush Hour Butcheries, shop and bottle store.