Chombo fires Mudzuri


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Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo fired Harare’s first publicly elected mayor Elias Mudzuri but did not give any reasons except that this was a result of an investigation into Mudzuri’s conduct as mayor and that the President had directed him to vacate his office and house within seven days.

Mudzuri said he would challenge the dismissal and might appeal to the African Union of Local Authorities clearly outlining that there was no legal justification for his dismissal.

Chombo suspended Mudzuri in April 2003 and set up a nine-member commission led by Professor Jameson Kurasha to investigate him. A November 2003 High Court ruling declared that the Kurasha Commission was improperly formed and the evidence it gathered could not be used to fire Mudzuri.

The Kurasha commission submitted its report to Chombo in January 2004 but the contents were never made public.

In March Chombo appointed a new three-member commission headed by lawyer Johannes Tomana to consider allegations against the mayor and recommend whether to fire Mudzuri.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE680, HARARE MAYOR FIRED IN LATEST GOZ ATTACK ON MDC

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE680

2004-04-21 14:59

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 000680

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI MDC

SUBJECT: HARARE MAYOR FIRED IN LATEST GOZ ATTACK ON MDC

LOCAL AUTHORITY

 

REF: A. HARARE 188

B. HARARE 47

C. HARARE 2406 2003

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 16 Minister of Local Government

Ignatius Chombo fired the suspended MDC Mayor of Harare Elias

Mudzuri without apparent legal justification. The Mayor said

he intended to appeal to the High Court to overturn the

dismissal, but we hold little hope for his success. END

SUMMARY.

 

Harare Mayor Suspended Without Justification

——————————————–

 

2. (C) In an April 15 letter from Chombo to Mudzuri, Chombo

referred to an investigation into Mudzuri’s conduct as Mayor

and said that the President directed him to vacate his office

and house within seven days.

 

3. (U) Although the letter gave no justification for the

dismissal, an article in the government-controlled Herald

cited corruption, abuse of power, improper dismissal of

council staff, improper tender procedures and failure to

cooperate with the GOZ as reasons for the firing.

 

4. (C) In a conversation with the Ambassador on April 20 at

the Residence, Mudzuri said he intended to challenge the

dismissal and eviction in the High Court. This would be the

latest in a string of court applications by Mudzuri over the

past year objecting to his suspension and investigation.

Mudzuri said that under Zimbabwean law an election is

required within 90 days of a Mayor vacating office and

Mudzuri intended to run again.

 

5. (C) Mudzuri said that he would consider writing a letter

to the African Union of Local Authorities (AULA), copying it

to the international media, clearly outlining that there was

no legal justification for his dismissal.

 

6. (U) On April 20, the Combined Harare Residents’

Association (CHRA) issued a strongly-worded condemnation of

Mudzuri’s dismissal. MDC Bulawayo Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube

publicly criticized the political nature and lack of legal

justification for the decision in an April 18 article in the

independent weekly The Standard.

 

Mudzuri Suspension Background

—————————–

 

7. (U) Chombo suspended Mudzuri in April 2003 and set up a

nine-member commission led by Professor Jameson Kurasha to

investigate him. A November 2003 High Court ruling declared

that the Kurasha commission was improperly formed and the

evidence it gathered could not be used to fire Mudzuri (Ref

C). The Kurasha commission submitted its report to Chombo in

January (Ref A) — the contents of which have never been made

public. In March Chombo appointed a new three-member

commission headed by lawyer Johannes Tomana to consider

allegations against the Mayor and recommend whether to fire

Mudzuri. In various press reports Tomana said his commission

purposefully did not review the Kurasha report so as not to

prejudice itself, but instead made its recommendation to fire

Mudzuri based on interviews with council staff. Mudzuri

refused to be questioned by Tomana absent the Kurasha report.

 

8. (C) COMMENT: While there have been two commissions set up

to investigate Mudzuri, both of which have filed reports or

made recommendations to Minister Chombo, Chombo cited no

findings, and gave no reasons in his April 15 dismissal

letter to Mudzuri. Given the political motivations behind

Mudzuri’s firing, we think the chances are slim that

Mudzuri’s appeal to the High Court could result in a decision

overturning his firing and eviction. Taken with a ZANU-PF

mob’s April 21 forcible eviction of the duly elected MDC

mayor of Mutare (Septel), the message from the GOZ to MDC

local authorities seems clear, you are treading on thin ice,

watch your step or we will take you down by any means

necessary.

SULLIVAN

(17 VIEWS)

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