Violence mars Byo mayoral poll

Local

By Newsday

BULAWAYO town clerk Christopher Dube was heckled by residents after cancelling mayoral polls yesterday, arguing that it was unprocedural and illegal to conduct the election at the Large City Hall.

BY SHARON SIBINDI

Bulawayo residents demonstrating against the postponement of mayoral polls at Large City Hall yesterday
The election and swearing-in of the mayor and his deputy had been moved to Large City Hall upon the request of ratepayers who wanted to witness the event.

Residents gathered at the hall from around 3pm since the elections were scheduled to begin at 4pm.

Dube only arrived at around 5pm to advise that the election had been called off on legal grounds.

This sparked uproar from the crowd that started booing him.

The angry residents did not give Dube the chance to explain until he left the hall to address journalists in the council chambers.

Following the cancellation of the election, angry residents started demonstrating outside the hall and riot police with water cannons were deployed to monitor the situation.

Dube told journalists that the local authority had been advised that holding the elections at a public hall was improper at law.

“There are two reasons for postponing the elections. The movement of the first meeting of council from the chambers to the Large City Hall was illegal and also for security reasons. In the first place, we had agreed that it was the best thing as on Friday, they were a lot of people who were here and wanted to witness the swearing-in ceremony,” he said.

Dube said the residents had written a petition to Bulawayo City Council, seeking to be involved and to have the meeting moved to the hall.

“So in the spirit of transparency, we thought it was the best idea, but unfortunately we were advised that what we had done was illegal. We are also law-abiding citizens and officials of council (so) we had to listen to the legal advice,” he said.

Dube said the meeting will be held in council chambers on Friday at 4pm.

“It is only dependent on the person who is legally mandated to chair that meeting who is the provincial administrator. It will be an open council meeting, but though obviously the numbers are going to be reduced. We are going to engage all those stakeholders and we will engage all the leaders of the groups who wanted to come,” he said.

Residents have been calling on the councillors to elect a mayor who hails from the province who can relate with their problems.

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