Chombo boots out three of the four elected MDC mayors


All 19 Movement for Democratic Change councillors in Mutare resigned on 4 January 2006, paving way for Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo to appoint an acting council of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front loyalists to run the city.

Chombo had already suspended three elected MDC mayor, Elias Mudzuri of Harare, Misheck Shoko of Chitungwiza and Misheck Kagurabadza of Mutare. The only elected MDC mayor of the four largest cities in the country remaining was Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube of Bulawayo.


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Reference ID






2006-01-09 05:30

2011-08-30 01:44


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 03 HARARE 000011








E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/06/2011






B. 2004 HARARE 2035


Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Eric T. Schultz under Section 1

.4 b/d






1. (C) All 19 of Mutare’s MDC city councilors resigned on

January 4 in response to their December 29 suspension by

Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo over alleged

mismanagement. The Minister appointed an acting council of

ruling party loyalists to run the city. Chombo also

suspended the MDC executive mayor of Chitungwiza, Mishek

Shoko, on December 29. These moves follow an announcement by

the Ministry that overdue urban council elections for Harare,

which has been governed by an ZANU-PF acting mayor and

commission since December 2004, would be postponed until

2007. Three of Zimbabwe’s four largest cities have now had

their elected MDC councils removed by the central government

and are now under ruling party control. End Summary.



GOZ Takes Over Mutare



2. (U) By letter on December 29, Chombo suspended Mutare’s

full City Council – all 19 members of which were elected MDC

representatives. According to the GOZ-controlled Herald

newspaper, a commission appointed by Chombo would manage the

city’s affairs during an investigation into alleged

mismanagement by the elected council. Heading the commission

would be Kenneth Saruchera, a ZANU-PF ex-council member and

former party provincial spokesperson. The suspensions

followed the July suspension of Mutare’s MDC mayor, Misheck

Kagurabadza (ref A).


3. (SBU) The councilors responded by submitting a collective

letter of resignation dated January 4 (e-mailed to AF/S), in

which they blasted the Ministry for its incessant

interference with the Council’s business, including the

freezing of its budget despite hyperinflation, the unlawful

overriding of its personnel decisions, and the confiscation

of its vehicles. They asserted that the investigation’s

findings were a foregone conclusion and explained that they

would save ratepayers’ money by resigning.


4. (C) Suspended Mayor Kagurabadza reiterated to the Embassy

on January 5 that Chombo was on a mission to destroy all MDC

municipal councils. He noted that Chombo’s Mutare commission

was packed with ZANU-PF loyalists ) some of whom had already

been rejected by the Mutare electorate. One commissioner,

for example, was Ellen Gwaradzimba, who Kagurabadza had

handily defeated with over 80 percent of the votein the last

mayoral race. Kagurabadza said he remained suspended but had

not resigned and the “investigation” of specious allegations

against him continued.


5. (C) Kagurabadza questioned the utility of the opposition

participating at all in municipal elections given its

experience since nearly sweeping the last national urban

council elections in 2003. He said the party leadership had

not addressed the participation issue in view of its division

and disarray but added that the party’s provincial leadership

recently met with the suspended council and recommended that

it resign.



Chitungwiza Mayor Also Booted



6. (U) According to independent press reports, Chitungwiza

Mayor Misheck Shoko confirmed that he had received a

suspension letter from Chombo on December 29. The state

media reported on December 30 that Shoko had been suspended

to stem the municipality’s failure to provide services in

Zimbabwe’s third largest city, a sprawling dormitory

community for the capital. MDC Deputy Mayor Collins Gwiyo

would serve as acting mayor pending the probe’s conclusion.


7. (C) In a late November meeting, Shoko outlined to us the

various efforts undertaken by Chombo’s Ministry to undermine

the city’s local governance. Most significantly, the ZANU-PF

town clerk nearly one year ago had diverted a supplementary

Z$5 billion (US$1.25 million at the then official exchange

rate) disbursement from the Reserve Bank (RBZ), most of which

went to Chombo himself for use in the March parliamentary

elections. According to Shoko, Chombo had also diverted Z22

billion of Chitungwiza’s money to discharge debts of Harare,

which is being run by a ZANU-PF-appointed commission.


8. (C) Shoko said that when the Ministry tried to hold him

accountable for resulting booking discrepancies, the popular

war veteran enlisted the support of RBZ Governor Gideon Gono.

Shoko said that Gono’s investigation exonerated him and that

Gono had advocated on his behalf with Chombo and Mugabe.

Nonetheless, Chombo had continued to thwart Shoko’s personnel

moves, including his effort to fire the clerk, and dispatched

his Ministry’s district administrator to disrupt and override

his executive decisions. Moreover, the GOZ continued to

withhold money due the city while the ruling party deployed

its loyalists in disruptive “protests” against the mayor.


9. (C) Shoko said the acting mayor, a former ZCTU official,

has a history of vigorously opposing the ruling party. He

predicted that the GOZ would eventually install a ZANU-PF

loyalist as mayor.



Harare Election Postponed



10. (SBU) On December 22, the independent press reported

that Chombo had once again postponed elections for Harare,s

city council, until March 2007. The move will leave the

capital’s governance under the control of a Chombo-appointed

commission with former MDC deputy mayor turned ZANU-PF

loyalist Sekesayi Makwavarara at the helm (ref B). The

election’s postponement would appear to violate Zimbabwe’s

Urban Councils Act, which stipulates that a commission may

run a city only for a maximum of six months. The Combined

Harare Residents Association has challenged the formation of

the commission and the lack of timely elections in court, so

far without success.






11. (C) No longer content with hamstringing opposition-run

local governments, the ruling party appears to be moving to

systematically replace them with &commissions8 of ZANU-PF

loyalists. Given this continuing assault, it is hardly

surprising that the opposition party may be reconsidering its

participation in local elections. Tsvangirai’s mainstream

faction of the MDC could choose to extend its electoral

boycott to include the nationwide urban council elections

scheduled for August, elections in which it would otherwise

likely do very well. However, this approach carries risks

for ZANU-PF as well. They will now have to take direct

responsibility for providing city services in both Mutare and

Chitungwiza. In Harare, the commission has performed poorly

and has further undermined the ruling party,s popularity in

the capital. Residents have taken to calling Harare

&pothole city.8 We may very well see this pattern repeated

in the country,s other urban areas.



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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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