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