Another Twist To The Vic Falls Mayor Saga, “I Signed Under Duress,” Former Mayor Says.
12 May 2020
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Somvelo Dlamini

The July Moyo reinstated MDC Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somveli Dlamini has disowned a letter he reportedly wrote resigning from the mayor’s position, saying the MDC Alliance leadership drafted it and forced him to append his signature.

Cllr Dlamini, who had been in the doldrums of politics since February 24 when the MDC Alliance leadership expelled him on allegations of violating party rules and disrespecting protocol, said he never resigned.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo reinstated Cllr Dlamini as a councillor for Ward 9 last Tuesday.

Minister Moyo took the decision on the basis of a letter written to him by Mr Douglas Mwonzora who is secretary general of the MDC-T as per the recent Supreme Court ruling which recognised Dr Thokozani Khupe as the party leader.

While the local authority’s other 10 councillors welcomed his reinstatement, they quickly replaced him with Ward 5 Councillor Richard Mguni in the mayor’s office saying he comes back as an ordinary councillor because he resigned.

But in an interview yesterday, Cllr Dlamini said he is still the legitimate mayor of Victoria Falls and the election of Cllr Mguni as his replacement on Thursday is a nullity.

“I didn’t write that letter. The last part of the letter states that I would write to the Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube and I didn’t do that either which means that I haven’t resigned from council as mayor. If you look at that letter it was addressed to Charlton Hwende (MDC Alliance secretary) and not to the Town Clerk or the Minister hence I didn’t notify the Town Clerk of my resignation in terms of the Urban Councils Act. The party leadership brought the letters and asked me to sign under duress. That election (of Cllr Mguni) is null and void because of the Supreme Court ruling and because I didn’t write a resignation letter. I would say that council meeting was a bogus meeting and the person who was elected is unlawfully in office. He is illegitimate as I was elected and sworn in”, said Cllr Dlamini.

His purported resignation letter dated 20 March reads:

“Following extensive consultation with the national leadership of the party, I hereby give notice of my resignation from the position of Mayor of Victoria Falls with effect from 31 July 2020. I would like to thank the party and councillors of Victoria Falls for giving me the opportunity to have served the people of Victoria Falls as a Mayor for the last two years. I will also be withdrawing the High Court application I had filed. I am grateful to the leadership of the party for the kind and candid guidance given to me and for the amicable settlement of this matter…. I will be writing the formal letter of resignation addressed to the Town Clerk upon my return to Victoria Falls next week.”

It was copied to Messrs Nelson Chamisa, Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti, Elias Mudzuri and Victoria Falls Town Clerk Mr Dube.

Cllr Dlamini accused the MDC Alliance of duping him, saying he agreed to withdraw the court case in which he was suing the party for firing him in a deal with his superiors where they would have lifted his expulsion and reinstated him but the leadership later reneged after his withdrawal of the case.

Mr Hwende dismissed Cllr Dlamini’s claims saying he signed the letter and also withdrew the court case on his own accord.

“It’s not true. How is that possible? He signed the letter and went on to withdraw the court application on his own accord. His reinstatement is illegal in this case as well,” said Mr Hwende.

Minister Moyo reinstated Cllr Dlamini to the mayor’s position in a letter dated May 5.

Cllr Dlamini said the letter was enough to return him to the office as its contents were similar to the one that expelled him which he said was silent about the position of mayor.

“I am the legitimate mayor of this town because I have been reinstated. What was written in the letter of recall is what was written in the reinstatement letter. They will not swear him (Cllr Mguni) in because they are aware they acted illegally, “ said Cllr Dlamini.

He said even if the seat had been declared vacant, it was wrong for the councillors to allow a person other than an outgoing mayor or deputy mayor to preside over the election.

Cllr Prince Thuso Moyo presided over the election as Deputy Mayor Cllr Patricia Mwale who had been acting mayor, had declared interest in the position.

Cllr Dlamini said for an election of mayor to have gone ahead, Government should have declared the seat vacant.

Asked if he had crossed the floor to the Khupe-led MDC-T, Cllr Dlamini said: “I can’t comment on that now. I will work with whoever wants to work with me for our people. Some of the councillors have openly expressed that they won’t work with me. It’s unfortunate that there is no independent thinking among councillors. This is a matter that affects policy making at local level but you find the party using the whipping system which is not proper. “

Mr Dube said the local authority will be guided by the Ministry.

He said no date has been set to swear in Cllr Mguni.

On Thursday the municipal management had insisted that the election be deferred to allow for time to consult.