MASVINGO-City councilors have elected Ward 4 councilor Alec Tabe as the new mayor, replacing recalled Ward 2 councilor Shantiel Chiwara, in an act that has been referred to by party insiders as defiance of the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party position.
Tabe won with 10 votes, ahead of Sharon Marombedze of Zanu PF, who received only two votes.
Speaking to the press after the election, Tabe said he was not replacing Chiwara but rather taking over from her. If she were to bounce back, he was ready to work with her and consult her when needed.
He also emphasized that there was no party defiance, and the councilors simply exercised their right to elect their preferred candidate.
“I am not replacing her but I am simply taking over from where she left. We are from the same party, and we are going to work together. We will consult her when there is a need. The councilors elected me out of their own will, and there was no defiance of any party order,” Tabe said.
However, the election was not without drama, with insiders suggesting that the result reflected a clash between party heavyweights Sesel Zvidzai, who is in charge of local government, and Amos Chibaya, the organizing secretary of the party.
Sources revealed that caucuses made in the past few days failed to yield a consensus, leaving the local councilors divided on who should replace the shortest-serving mayor.
“Zvidzai, by virtue of being in charge of elections, gave a directive that Deputy Mayor Daniel Mberikunashe be mayor and would be deputized by Richard Musekiwa. However, other councilors said they could not follow a directive that came through interested parties, saying it was supposed to have come through someone else,” said the source.
It was further alleged that they called Chibaya, who said they were supposed to go by what the councilors wanted. Failing to reach a consensus, local leaders Mandi Matutu and Jeffreyson Chitando proposed an internal election process to choose a mayor between them, resulting in Tabe’s election.
The councilors also tried to delay the election, but the City Council’s chamber secretary said they couldn’t wait. Another ploy to stop the elections by Chiwara’s lawyer, who said her matter was still in court, was again turned down by the chamber secretary, who said he could only be stopped by a court order. In the council chambers, Tabe was elected by Women’s Quota Councillor Alaika Time and was seconded by Ward 9 Councilor Bernard Muchokwa, while Sharon Marombedze (Women’s Quota Councilor) of Zanu PF nominated herself and was seconded by Ward 10 Councilor Sengerayi Manyanga.