Chief Charumbira says Mudzuri is his own worst enemy


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Chief Charumbira, who was deputy Minister of Local Government at the time of Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri’s suspension, said Mudzuri was his own worst enemy.

The problems he was facing were not representative of other Movement for Democratic Change mayors who had swept most of the urban councils. Instead, they were typical of mayors of Harare, regardless of political affiliation.

Charumbira said more than one ZANU-PF mayor of Harare had been fired for malfeasance.

He said Mudzuri’s abrasive style alienated even those from his own party and he refused to be reasoned with by the Ministry.

“Instead of responding to explicit Ministry overtures to address problems face to face, he preferred to take everything to the newspapers. And like many of its ruling party predecessors, Mudzuri’s administration showed evidence of corruption that bore investigation,” the chief said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE2095, CHAT WITH A CHIEF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2095

2003-10-21 14:18

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002095

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2008

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: CHAT WITH A CHIEF

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a meeting with poloff October 8, ZANU-PF

MP (appointed by the President) and Deputy Minister of Local

Government, Public Works and National Housing Chief Fortune

Charumbira identified weaknesses in the nation’s municipal

administration and outlined efforts to improve them. He

stressed the need for the international community to make due

allowance for the central political importance of land

ownership in its relations with Zimbabwe. The Chief made a

predictable pitch for the lifting of USG’s individually

targeted sanctions (to which he is subject) in order to send

a positive signal that could be reciprocated in some

unspecified way. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Chief Charumbira explained that he sits on the

National Council of Chiefs and is one of 10 chiefs selected

by President Mugabe to sit in Parliament. He was elected

president by the Council a couple of years ago but declined

because of the press of business obligations — his

consultancy work had him tied up with an institutional reform

program for the World Bank in Tanzania at that time.

Nonetheless, the other chiefs relied heavily on him on a host

of issues facing the Council. He noted that chiefs in

Zimbabwe historically had a reputation of supporting the

government in power — ZANU-PF now and the Smith regime

before it. He said this was generally true, although he

considered himself and some others to be independent

thinkers.

 

3. (C) Charumbira elaborated on some of his priorities as

Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and

National Housing. He recognized the potential for political

friction between MDC municipal governments and the central

government. A key to minimizing these would be collaboration

on municipal strategic plan frameworks on which work

commenced last March. The concept called for parties to

agree on priorities, values, implementation issues in advance

so as to promote a depoliticized buy-in from relevant players

before opportunities for finger-pointing emerged.

Municipalities were now submitting their strategic plans,

which would be circulated for peer review before undergoing

further revision and eventual implementation.

 

4. (C) More problematic than potential political friction

were poor planning capacity and incompetence among municipal

authorities, according to Charumbira. The interaction among

peers and with central government in the framework review

would help, but under the Urban Council Act responsibility

ultimately devolved to the local level. The government had

considered legislating performance standards for

municipalities, but ultimately concluded such an approach

would be anti-democratic and likely unworkable. For the

foreseeable future, the central government’s posture toward

towns would be “hands off, eyes on.”

 

5. (C) Charumbira cautioned against assuming that the

problems of MDC Harare Mayor Mudzuri would be representative

of other MDC mayors. Instead, they were typical of mayors of

Harare, regardless of political affiliation. He noted that

more than one ZANU-PF mayor of Harare had been fired for

malfeasance. Mudzuri was his own worst enemy, Charumbira

maintained. His abrasive style alienated even those from his

own party and he refused to be reasoned with by the Ministry.

Instead of responding to explicit Ministry overtures to

address problems face to face, he preferred to take

everything to the newspapers. And like many of its ruling

party predecessors, Mudzuri’s administration showed evidence

of corruption that bore investigation.

 

6. (C) The Chief emphasized the importance of the land

ownership issue in Zimbabwe, particularly for the institution

of chief. Land and soil traditionally have been perceived as

central to nearly everything that mattered: rains, luck,

prosperity, and authority. The MDC’s inadequate appreciation

of this was a serious liability with the rural masses; the

party’s belated and limited conversion to land reform came

across as politically opportunistic and disingenuous. The

chief acknowledged that land reform was fraught with many

unspecified problems that the government would have to

address, and urged that the international community recognize

domestic political factors constraining GOZ land policies.

 

7. (C) Charumbira complained that USG policy on Zimbabwe was

ill-advised and unnecessarily detrimental to bilateral

relations. He conceded that the “sanctions” cited by the GOZ

as impeding development did not have a large impact per se,

but that they sent an influential message to international

investors that adversely affected Zimbabwe’s prospects for

foreign direct investment. He asserted that USG lifting of

sanctions (i.e. travel and financial sanctions against named

individuals, including himself) would be an excellent

confidence-building measure that could engender a more

constructive posture by the GOZ toward the USG and the

domestic opposition. We gave him no grounds to expect any

such USG move in the absence of major changes in the

political landscape here.

 

8. (C) COMMENT: Charumbira is among ZANU-PF’s numerous

erudite, well-educated technocrats, apparently comfortable

with domestic and international interlocutors alike.

Unfortunately reflecting the ruling party’s current culture

of conformity, though, he is likely to be more chary of

frankly sharing the insights of his education and experience

with his own party superiors than he is with his Tanzanian

clients. The Chief keeps a much lower profile than his

immediate superior, Minister Ignatius Chombo, in a ministry

that will be potentially instrumental in the opposition’s

performance in municipal administration. In any event,

individuals like Charumbira are a potential springboard for

evolution or moderation of ruling party policies given the

right changes in environment. We have heard pleas for “good

faith” from similarly situated party principals affected by

USG sanctions but continue to doubt that adjustment of

targeted sanctions would positively influence the ruling

party in any way at this time.

SULLIVAN

(33 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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