High Court Justice Susan Mavangira on 10 July upheld Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo’s controversial suspension of Harare Movement for Democratic Change mayor Elias Mudzuri for alleged misconduct.
The ruling in effect barred Mudzuri from going to his office and from carrying out the functions of mayor. Chombo called for the Mayor to be evicted from his official residence, the withdrawal of the official vehicle, and withdrawal of any bodyguards or aides.
Mudzuri’s deputy Sekesayi Makwavarara, also from the MDC, has been appointed acting mayor.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1420, JUDGE UPHOLDS SUSPENSION OF HARARE MAYOR ELIAS
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 001420
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013
SUBJECT: JUDGE UPHOLDS SUSPENSION OF HARARE MAYOR ELIAS
REF: A. HARARE 1381
¶B. HARARE 863
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) On July 10, High Court Justice Susan Mavangira upheld
Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo’s controversial
suspension of Harare MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri for alleged
misconduct. In effect this ruling bars Mudzuri from going to
his office, and from carrying out the functions of mayor.
Minister Chombo has also called for the Mayor to be evicted
from his official residence. The Deputy Mayor, also an MDC
member, has taken over the functions of the Mayor and is
reportedly collaborating with the Minister. While the
situation looks bad for the MDC, with the good impression he
made at a recent conference of mayors in Denver and at the
Corporate Council on Africa meetings, (Ref B), the Mayor
could instead become an important emissary for the MDC
overseas. And the current Deputy Mayor’s term ends in
August, at which time the MDC council will elect a new person
who would presumably be more ready to accept MDC guidance.
¶2. (SBU) On July 10, High Court Justice Susan Mavangira
upheld Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo’s
controversial suspension of Harare MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri
for alleged misconduct. In effect this ruling bars Mudzuri
from going to his office, and from carrying out the functions
of Mayor. Mudzuri told the Ambassador that he has no
intention of defying the court order by going to his office.
Minister Calls for Mayor’s Eviction
¶3. (C) On July 8, Chombo wrote a letter to the Acting Mayor,
Deputy Mayor Sekesayi Makwavarara, directing the withdrawal
of other benefits to the Mayor including eviction from the
official residence, withdrawal of the official vehicle, and
withdrawal of any bodyguards or aides. While Mavangira’s
order made no mention of these benefits, Chombo appeared on a
state television broadcast on July 10 saying that security
agents would go to the Mayor’s residence on July 11 to evict
him. The Mayor, his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, and the MDC are
still deciding whether to appeal his suspension – they have
ten days in which to file – however, Mtetwa said the Mayor
planned to surround himself with security guards and resist
the eviction. If he is evicted, Mtetwa said they would
likely go to court to have this action overturned.
¶4. (C) After calling for the Mayor’s suspension in April
2003, Chombo appointed a group of six ZANU-PF insiders to
conduct the investigation into alleged misconduct. Although
the identities of the investigators has not been officially
announced, Mtetwa has learned who they are and has sent them
letters inquiring whether they have in fact been named, and
offering appointments with the Mayor, noting that no
investigator has yet sought to interview Mudzuri. Mtetwa
also learned that three of the would-be investigators have
said they do not want the duty.
Deputy Mayor Collaborating with Chombo
¶5. (C) At lunch with the Ambassador on July 10, Mudzuri said
the Deputy Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara is collaborating with
Chombo – that effectively Chombo is running the city. In a
recent urban councils meeting with other mayors, Makwavarara
stated that everything was going well in her office. Mudzuri
also said a few other MDC councilors were collaborating in
exchange for payment. According to MDC presidential advisor
Gandi Mudzingwa, Mudzuri himself brought in Makwavarara after
his election, against the wishes of the council, but he and
Makwavarara subsequently had a falling out. The MDC
leadership met with Harare councilors on July 10 to build
solidarity with them, and to convey to Makwavarara that
regardless of personal differences with Mudzuri, she had an
obligation to stick with the principles of the party.
¶6. (C) Mudzingwa said the Deputy Mayor’s term ends in August
2003; at that time the council will elect a new Deputy
¶7. (C) What appears at first glance to be real setback for
Mayor Mudzuri and the MDC may not be as bad as it looks.
Although the Mayor may have essentially lost his job, he made
a good impression on other mayors at a recent conference in
Denver and at the Corporate Council on Africa meetings, (Ref
B), and he could be an important emissary for the MDC abroad.
Although the Deputy Mayor appears to be collaborating with
Minister Chombo, her term ends next month and presumably, the
38-strong MDC council will elect a different MDC
Deputy/Acting Mayor who would toe the MDC line. Chombo might
choose to dismiss that person as well, and perhaps the entire
MDC-dominated council, but such a radical step would be
controversial and have its own consequences. In the ongoing
saga, the Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA), an
active advocacy organization, could be an important force in
checking Chombo’s de facto attempt to take back Harare for
ZANU-PF through non-elective means. End Comment.