Zvobgo advised Mudzuri to challenge Chombo’s suspension


Outspoken critic Eddison Zvobgo, who was a lawyer, advised Movement for Democratic Change mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri to file a petition with the High Court charging that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo had overreached his authority because Chombo had no reasonable grounds for suspending him as mayor.


Mudzuri’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa did not intend to take the case to court though she was going to write Chombo that he had no legal basis for suspending Mudzuri.

Mtetwa said she was advising Mudzuri not to go to court because the likelihood that he would face a judge sympathetic to ZANU-PF was great. 

The objective was to force Chombo to prove his case rather than Mudzuri to prove his innocence.


Full cable:



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Reference ID 






2003-04-30 14:42

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.
301442Z Apr 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000833 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2013 
ND (D). 
1. (C) The suspension of Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri, on April 
29 for alleged mismanagement of the city is an effort by the 
ruling party ZANU-PF to regain control of the capital city. 
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works, and National 
Housing, Ignatius Chombo, by applying Section 54 of the Urban 
Councils Act, seems to be trying to pave the way for 
Mudzuri,s dismissal despite having no legal basis to do so. 
We are not certain how Mudzuri will react to this attempt--he 
has been counseled to challenge the suspension in High 
Court--but in the interim we think that the USG's position 
should be that Mudzuri remains the legally elected and 
empowered mayor. End Summary. 
Minister Suspends Mayor for Mismanagement 
2. (U) Following the April 29 Cabinet meeting, Minister of 
Local Government, Public Works, and National Housing, 
Ignatius Chombo announced Executive Mayor of Harare Elias 
Mudzuri,s suspension from office pending the results of an 
investigation for misconduct. The Deputy Mayor, Sekesayi 
Makwavarara, also MDC is a woman whom Mudzuri has privately 
characterized as ¬ sharp8 in a conversation with the 
Ambassador, will be acting mayor. The suspension came on the 
opening day of the Harare International Festival of the Arts 
and during the visit by the Deputy Mayor of Harare's sister 
city Munich, who was outraged with the suspension. Since 
Mudzuri took office in March 2002, ZANU-PF, Chombo has been 
ZANU-PF's hatchet man in a campaign to discredit the mayor 
and undermine his influence. The GOZ even went so far as to 
arrest the mayor, deputy mayor, and several councilors in 
January for meeting with constituents, in supposed 
contravention of the Public Order and Security Act. (See 
3. (U) Chombo told the government-controlled newspaper, 
Herald that a committee of inquiry would be appointed next 
week to investigate the allegations and recommend a course of 
action. Chombo said the committee, unlike a commission, 
would not run the affairs of the city--leaving the 
overwhelmingly MDC-dominated council intact to continue 
governing Harare. Mudzuri told the Ambassador that he urged 
his councilors not to quit in protest at his suspension. 
(NOTE: Under the Urban Councils Act, the Minister may appoint 
a commission to act as council if all the councilors have 
been suspended or are unable to exercise all or some of their 
functions. END NOTE.) 
4. (U) Chombo claimed that Mudzuri was suspended because of 
mismanagement of city affairs that has led to a decline in 
service delivery. In particular, Chombo accuses Mudzuri of: 
--Failing to deliver and publicize a strategic turnaround 
plan for the city. 
--Arbitrarily suspending key management staff without a staff 
--Abusing his authority by selectively reprimanding employees 
for misconduct. 
--Encouraging illegal activities within the city through 
press advertisements, contrary to one of the council mandates 
to protect the public health of residents. 
--Flouting and ignoring tender procedures to benefit 
individuals and companies of his choosing. He is also 
accused of manipulating these procedures in tendering 
services related to water billing systems, street light 
fittings, procurement of water treatment chemicals, and 
refuse collection. 
--Mismanaging public finances by producing partisan documents 
not in the interest of sound, smooth governance. 
--Encouraging employees to participate in the stayaways in 
March and April. 
--Failing to sufficiently supply water to the city and 
satellite towns since September. 
Measured Response By Party 
5. (U) Mudzuri dismissed Chombo,s accusations telling the 
independent newspaper, Daily News, denying that there are 
suitable grounds for suspension. However he would be willing 
to submit his performance and continued tenure in office to 
city residents in a referendum. (NOTE: The Urban Councils 
Act states that the Minister may suspend a mayor if he is 
suspected of having been guilty of conduct that renders him 
unsuitable as a mayor. The same clause states that the 
President may dismiss a mayor if he is guilty of conduct that 
makes him unsuitable to be mayor. END NOTE.) Mudzuri 
claimed that Chombo wants to trigger unnecessary chaos and 
confusion in the city. At a subsequent dinner with the 
Ambassador, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the Ambassador 
the MDC would not rush into street protests over this issue. 
He said the MDC would stick to its own timetable. Another 
dinner guest, former Finance Minister Simba Makoni speculated 
that this latest development could be part of a move by the 
&Gang of Four8 (Chombo, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, 
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, and Minister of Justice 
Patrick Chinamasa) to consolidate their positions and 
"radicalize" the situation amid reports that their sole 
source of influence and power--President Robert Mugabe--may 
be contemplating retirement. 
6. (U) Beatrice Mtetwa, Mudzuri's attorney, outlined the 
mayor's response to Chombo. Mtetwa said she would deliver a 
letter to Chombo today stating that he has no legal basis for 
suspending Mudzuri but that they would not take him to court 
over the matter. Mtetwa told us she is advising Mudzuri to 
not go to court because the likelihood that he would face a 
judge sympathetic to ZANU-PF was great. The objective is to 
force Chombo to prove his case rather than have Mudzuri prove 
his innocence. Elder ZANU-PF statesman, Eddison Zvobgo, who 
told the Ambassador that he had talked with Mudzuri about the 
suspension and informed Mudzuri that Chombo has no 
"reasonable grounds" as stated in the act for suspending 
Mudzuri. He counseled Mudzuri to file a petition with the 
High Court charging Chombo with overreaching his authority. 
7. (C) The suspension of Mayor Mudzuri--a popular mayor who 
has had some successes in improving city services despite the 
ZANU-PF campaign to sabotage his efforts--is a transparent 
attempt to prevent the MDC's most prominent office-holder 
from delivering services effectively and thus further 
diminishing the ruling party's waning support in the capital 
city. Since other ZANU-PF tactics have not succeeded in 
dashing Mudzuri's popularity, ZANU-PF has ignored legal 
niceties in its attempts to unseat the mayor. Chombo 
probably intends to use a section of the Urban Councils Act 
to assemble a hand-picked committee assembled to 
"investigate" the allegations and determine that the 
President has grounds to dismiss the mayor. 
8. (C) Mudzuri told the Ambassador that in spite of the 
suspension he would still like to attend the International 
Conference of Mayors in Denver in June and fulfill his prior 
Washington appointments. We strongly support this course of 
action. Given the clearly political nature of his suspension 
and the fact that this is only a suspension and not a 
dismissal, our maintaining USG sponsorship of this trip would 
send a strong signal of support for the MDC mayor at this 
difficult time. Chombo's machinations aside, it remains our 
view that Mudzuri is still the legally elected leader of this 
city. End Comment. 


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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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