Chombo appoints commission to run Harare


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Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo appointed an eight-member commission to run the City of Harare and though they were all from the private sector they all had government ties.

Acting mayor Sekesayi Makwavarara who was elected on a Movement for Democratic Change ticket but crossed over to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front would lead the commission.

The commission was expected to run the capital for 24 months but Chombo gave no explanation as to why the commission’s mandate exceeded the six months maximum that a commission may run a city under the Urban Councils Act.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE2035, COMMISSION APPOINTED TO RUN HARARE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE2035

2004-12-15 09:54

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 002035

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE, D. TEITELBAUM

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: COMMISSION APPOINTED TO RUN HARARE

 

REF: HARARE 680 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a clear–and possibly illegal–power

grab, the GOZ appointed a commission December 9 to run the

City of Harare, replacing the Harare City Council. The

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had dominated

the Council until earlier this year when the GOZ engineered

the dismissal of 19 MDC councilors and the remaining 16 MDC

councilors subsequently resigned. The MDC does not plan to

fight the commission,s establishment, but the Chairman of

the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) told us his

organization would mount a court challenge, though with

little hope of success. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) On December 9, the Minister of Local Government,

Ignatius Chombo, appointed an eight-member commission to run

the city of Harare. Acting Mayor Sekesayi Makwavarara, who

was elected to the Council as a member of the opposition

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) but later switched to

ZANU-PF, is to lead the commission. Chombo appointed the

remaining members of the commission from the private sector;

all have government ties. The eight ZANU-PF members of the

city council will continue to work with the commission, but

their exact role is unclear. The commission is to run the

city for the next 24 months.   Chombo gave no rationale for

the specific time period, which exceeds the six month maximum

a commission may run any city according to the Urban Councils

Act, but he had previously stated that council elections

would be held again in June 2006.

 

3. (SBU) Harare City Council has not had a quorum for

months. Chombo fired MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri in April on

specious grounds, ostensibly for abuse of power and failure

to cooperate with the GOZ (reftel). Following that, Chombo

dismissed 19 MDC councilors for ineffectiveness and failure

to work in the interests of their constituents. In August,

the remaining 16 MDC councilors resigned to protest the

Ministry,s interference with council operations and the lack

of a legally required mayoral election within 90 days after

Mudzuri,s dismissal. Throughout the year, the state-run

Herald newspaper has run numerous articles berating the

Council for its dwindling services and corruption and setting

the stage for establishment of the commission. MDC Director

of Presidential Affairs, Gandhi Mudzingwa, told Poloff

December 13 that the MDC did not plan any action and would

not issue a statement regarding the formation of the

commission.

 

4. (C) On December 13, CHRA chairperson Mike Davies told

Poloff that the organization planned to challenge the

legality of the commission. CHRA believes certain aspects of

the commission are illegal under the Urban Councils Act:

ZANU-PF city council members should not be allowed to retain

their positions once the commission is constituted, and the

commission can govern the city no more than six months, a

provision of the Urban Councils Act upheld by the courts in a

CHRA challenge to an earlier commission. Davies said he did

not have much hope for a positive outcome on these two

challenges. Even if the courts ruled in CHRA,s favor,

Chombo would likely ignore the rulings. Davies said CHRA

also had a pending suit challenging the failure of the

Ministry to hold an election to replace former mayor Mudzuri.

However, CHRA,s lawyers had advised him that the

appointment of the commission obviated the need for a mayoral

election and the suit was likely to die. Davies said CHRA

was pressing the suits to &maintain the moral high ground8

and that the situation in Harare was not likely to improve

until the national crisis was resolved and new legislation

passed. Under the Urban Councils Act the Minister of Local

Government could &do as he pleases8 regardless of specific

provisions in the remainder of the Act.

 

5. (C) COMMENT: The MDC counts on its urban base, and its

control of the majority of Zimbabwe,s city councils and

mayorships had been viewed as an opportunity to exert

executive authority and show people it can deliver goods and

services. All of these local governments, however, have

faced harassment and obstruction by the local ZANU-PF

structures and the Ministry of Local Government, whose

highest priority appears to be assuring that MDC local

municipal authorities are seen to fail. The Harare City

Council is the most prominent of the local governments won by

the MDC but the party has been unable or unwilling to commit

significant resources or decisive pressure in defense of the

Council or Mayor Mudzuri, a strong personality who has had

differences with many in the MDC leadership. The MDC has

also failed to creatively counter the GOZ,s pressure and

effectively protect the other local governments it has

controlled. Instead, the MDC has allowed itself to be fully

absorbed by election contests, parliamentary politics and

other nationally-oriented efforts–strategies that have left

once promising municipal authorities to slowly wither.

DELL

(125 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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