Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo on 22 July fired Mutare mayor Misheck Kagurabadza for allegedly misusing public funds, but the mayor said he had been fired for showing United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka the living conditions of people in Sakubva after Operation Murambatsvina which had displaced thousands of people.
Kagurabadza was accused of borrowing funds to buy two garbage vehicles and a Mercedes Benz for himself without authority from the ministry.
The mayor said the council did purchase four garbage vehicles, three ambulances, and five trucks for use by council members in carrying out their duties but that they did so under a lease to buy agreement and did not require the authority of the Ministry to do so.
Viewing cable 05HARARE1038, GOZ CONTINUES ATTACK ON MUNICIPALITIES
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8672
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001038
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010
SUBJECT: GOZ CONTINUES ATTACK ON MUNICIPALITIES
REF: A. HARARE 944
¶B. 2004 HARARE 2035
¶C. 2004 HARARE 682
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Eric T. Schultz under Section 1
¶1. (C) The GOZ suspended the MDC mayor of Mutare on July 22,
ostensibly for misusing public funds. However, the mayor
told us July 28 that showing the UN Special Envoy the areas
of Mutare affected by Operation Restore Order was the real
reason for his suspension. Meanwhile, the GOZ ordered
restored to his position a town clerk dismissed for
embezzlement by the MDC-led council of Chitungwiza.
Chitungwiza,s mayor told us he expected to hear news of his
own suspension in the near future. End Summary.
Mutare Mayor Suspended
¶2. (C) The GOZ announced the suspension of MDC Mayor of
Mutare M.T. Kagurabadza at a national conference for chiefs
on July 22. According to the July 27 edition of
government-sponsored Herald newspaper, Local Government
Minister Ignatius Chombo suspended Kagurabadza and other top
officials on the MDC-dominated Mutare council for misusing
public funds. The Herald article quoted Local Government
Deputy Secretary Jacob Chikuruwo that Kagurabadza had
borrowed funds to purchase two garbage vehicles and a
Mercedes Benz for himself without authority from the Ministry
to seek the loans.
¶3. (C) On July 28, Kagurabadza told poloff the real reason
for his suspension was for showing UN Special Envoy Anna
Tibaijuka the living conditions in the high-density suburb of
Sakubva, where tens of thousands were displaced after the
GOZ,s Operation Restore Order (ref A), before the GOZ could
clear the area out. Kagurabadza said the council did
purchase four garbage vehicles, three ambulances, and five
trucks for use by council members in carrying out their
duties but that they did so under a lease to buy agreement
and did not require the authority of the Ministry to do so.
He said that Mutare had had no garbage trucks or ambulances
at all before the MDC-dominated council took office.
¶4. (C) On July 26, the Herald reported a demonstration of
about 100 residents of Mutare calling on the Government to
fire the entire council. Kagurabadza said the demonstrators
were not residents of Mutare but rather people brought in by
the Government specifically for the purpose of demonstrating
against the council. The residents of Mutare did not oppose
him or the council because they knew what their elected
officials had done for the city.
Chitungwiza Mayor at Risk
¶5. (C) On July 25, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported that
Chombo had reinstated Chitungwiza town clerk Simbarashe
Mudunge, whom the MDC-led Chitungwiza council had suspended
for misuse of funds intended for a sewer project. Chombo
declared the allegations baseless and said the council had no
authority to suspend Mudunge. MDC mayor of Chitungwiza
Misheck Shoko told the Embassy,s cultural officer on July 25
that he expected to hear news of his own suspension or firing
any day for daring to suspend a town clerk favored by Chombo.
Shoko seemed resigned to the probability of his impending
removal from office and expressed no confidence in the legal
system as a means of fighting it.
¶6. (C) These actions by the Ministry of Local Government
continue a pattern of GOZ interference with MDC-led municipal
governments, the most notable of which was the firing of the
MDC mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, and several of the MDC
council members and appointment of a commission to run Harare
in 2004 (ref B). The ruling party has had it in for
Kagurabadza for some time; it engineered a lengthy siege of
his office last year in an attempt to drive him from office
(ref C). It has also staged disruptive demonstrations
against and tried to bribe other MDC mayors. The GOZ has
also denied fair pay to many MDC mayors (capping the Kariba
mayor’s pay at less than US$100 month, for example) and
systematically denied sustainable municipal rate structures
in most MDC-controlled cities. The municipal level has been
the one level where the MDC has been effective in getting
leaders elected and the Government has missed no opportunity
to thwart the effectiveness of the opposition,s elected