Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has put himself on a collision course with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, who accuse him of sabotaging the MDC-T and council projects to de-popularise the party ahead of elections.

Party insiders have argued that Chombo’s actions were meant to ensure the MDC-T and its councillors were viewed as non-performers by the electorate.

This came as Chombo last week instructed council to stop a 3 000-unit housing project in Budiriro, ordered an investigation into how the tenders were awarded by council and threatened to fire over 30 MDC-T councillors on graft allegations.

“As soon as I get information on those corrupt councillors, I will act. My hands are itching to act. We have written to the Prime Minister (Tsvangirai) to seek his report on councillors, but we have not been answered,” Chombo said.

However, his deputy Sessel Zvidzai yesterday said Chombo should “stop politicking”.

“The Budiriro project is a public-private partnership between council, (financial institutions) Old Mutual and CABS and anyone who tries to stop such projects will be mischievous. There is demand for housing in this country and 3 000 houses would have gone a long way to assist the homeless. He (Chombo) is just being political and denying people an opportunity to be house owners,” Zvidzai said.

“On the threats to fire 30 councillors, the party’s secretary-general Tendai Biti wrote to him telling him of our position on the 12 councillors. What else does he want? We gave him the names of corrupt councillors in Chitungwiza, but he has done nothing on them. He must apply the first-in first-out principle and deal with those in Chitungwiza first.”

Masunda, however, said he had nothing to hide hence the probe must go ahead.

“I welcome the probe as I have nothing to fear because I have never been in the business of keeping any skeletons in my cupboard. I certainly don’t intend to start doing so now. By the way, the chairman of CABS is Leonard Tsumba, the former Reserve Bank governor. I am the chairman of Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Zimbabwe,” Masunda said.

“It would appear to me that it’s all about electioneering and jockeying for his (Zanu PF) party’s position in the urban electorate within Greater Harare in view of the elections that are looming on the horizon.”

Documents gleaned by NewsDay showed that Zanu PF was now “afraid” of MDC-T council projects as they would “de-popularise the party ahead of elections”.

Fired Harare Zanu PF member Joshua Gore, who is appealing his expulsion to party national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo, exposed the Zanu PF plot saying he was being persecuted for “siding with the enemy and making the enemy popular at the expense of Zanu PF”.

“Charges against Gore (are that he) de-popularised the party and strengthened the enemy by failing to promote party interests by siding with a person (businessman Alex Mashamhanda) whose intention was to de-popularise the party through proceeding in a development where he knew fully well that it is not in the interest of Zanu PF as objections had been lodged to that effect,” read Gore’s letter of expulsion.