The Mayor of Njombe-Penja, René Manfo, says he is not giving up but will turn to the court to challenge his deposition by the Divisional Officer (DO) of the locality.
The DO deposed him during an extraordinary meeting of the Council chaired by the Senior Divisional Officer of Mungo, Yves Bertrand Noel Ndjana.
Mayor René Manfo’s removal from power was hinged on accusations of corruption and management of municipal funds during his two-year mandate at the Council.
“This is a public office, and accounts need to be given. The government cannot be putting funds in municipalities that are not transparent with what they do,” said the DO.
Reacting in a press interview, Mayor Manfo argued that a Divisional Officer has no power to depose a mayor. He has also accused the DO of being politically motivated.
“I am shocked and dismayed by the decision of the Divisional Officer to depose me,” Manfo told Équinoxe TV.
“He has no legal authority to do so. I am the duly elected mayor of Njombe-Penja, and I will not be intimidated by his political manoeuvring.”
He added that the work of the Municipal Council will be halted for the moment until issues are cleared out with the administration.
He insisted that he would be seizing the court to challenge the administration’s decision and called on the people of Njombe-Penja to remain calm and united.
A report read during the extraordinary meeting stated that the Njombe-Penja Council owes 9 months of rents for the Council hall, with the Council executing just 41 percent of projects since 2021.
The deposition of Mayor Manfo has sparked outrage among the people of Njombe-Penja. Many residents are accusing the Divisional Officer of abusing his powers. They are also calling on the central government to intervene and reverse the decision.
“This is a clear case of abuse of power,” an inhabitant of Njombe-Penja told Equinoxe.
“The divisional officer has no right to depose a Mayor. He is simply trying to settle his political scores.”
Another inhabitant said, “We are very disappointed by the central government. They have allowed the divisional officer to get away with this. We call on them to intervene and reinstate Mayor Manfo.”
René Manfo became Mayor of Njombe-Penja in 2021 following the death of Mayor Paul Eric Kingue.
Kingue himself suffered a long legal battle against the administration after he was arrested and deposed in 2008.
While in prison, his lawyers continued fighting his legal battle. An appeal against his deposition and imprisonment stalled on November 14, 2012, after the Litoral Court of Appeal handed him a 10-year sentence.
He headed to the Supreme Court, which delivered a favourable verdict that freed him.