Mayor suspended instead of corrupt councillors

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front dominated city council of Chegutu on 31 July voted to suspend its Movement for Democratic Change mayor Francis Dhlakama and to withdraw all benefits of his office.

The benefits included his official vehicle, house, salary, his secretary's salary, his guards and his cell phone.

Ironically Dhlakama had facilitated a local government audit which had uncovered massive corruption primarily by his ZANU-PF deputy mayor Phineas Mariyapera involving more than Z$150 million.

The scheme, which had been going on from 2001, involved understating taxpayer payments. Full sums were collected from taxpayers but some wound up in private accounts rather than public coffers.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1555, CHEGUTU ZANU-PF CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO SUSPEND MDC

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1555

2003-08-01 10:01

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.

 

011001Z Aug 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001555

 

SIPDIS

 

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

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI

SUBJECT: CHEGUTU ZANU-PF CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO SUSPEND MDC

MAYOR

 

REF: A. HARARE 1491

 

B. HARARE 42

 

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

 

Summary:

--------

 

1. (C) On July 31 the ZANU-PF dominated city council of

Chegutu voted to suspend the MDC Mayor of Chegutu Francis

Dhlakama and withdraw all benefits of his office. Dhlakama

facilitated an early July Ministry of Local Government audit

which detailed corruption perpetrated by various members of

the Chegutu City Council, primarily the ZANU-PF Deputy Mayor

Phineas Mariyapera. Under normal circumstances a damning

government audit, such as this one should be enough to at

least investigate, if not suspend the city council -- rather

than the Mayor. The audit puts the Ministry of Local

Government in a quandary, how to respect the results without

further tarring the image of ZANU-PF in Chegutu. End Summary

 

Council Votes to Suspend Mayor

------------------------------

 

2. (C) On July 31 the ZANU-PF dominated city council of

Chegutu voted to suspend the MDC Mayor of Chegutu Francis

Dhlakama and withdraw all benefits of his office including

his official vehicle, house, salary, his secretary's salary,

his guards and his cell phone. According to Dhlakama, only

the Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo has the

legal right to suspend him. Dhlakama expects to receive

written notification of his suspension on August 1, and for a

representative of the council to demand his car keys. He is

unsure when the other benefits might be withdrawn, but

believes that will follow soon. Dhlakama will request a

meeting with Chombo on August 1 to argue his side of the

story, hoping to appeal the suspension; however, he expects

Chombo to uphold it.

 

Audit Details Fraud by Councilors

----------------------------------

 

3. (C) In early July, a team of Ministry of Local Government

auditors completed an investigation and report of corruption

perpetrated by various members of the Chegutu City Council,

primarily the ZANU-PF Deputy Mayor Phineas Mariyapera, and

councilor Chigaze for upwards of ZWD$150 million (about

USD$45,000 at the current parallel rate). The scheme,

ongoing since 2001, involved understating taxpayer

payments--while the full sums were collected from the

taxpayer, some wound up in private accounts rather than

public coffers. The government auditors recommended

immediate dissolution of the council and police investigation

of the fraud. Dhlakama has facilitated the work of the

auditors and informs us that even ZANU-PF heavyweights are

annoyed at this crime--perhaps because it was local and they

did not benefit, perhaps because it has further alienated

ZANU-PF from the people of Chegutu.

 

4. (U) Chegutu has been besieged with problems in the recent

past. On July 21 ZANU-PF supporters prevented ten

prospective MDC candidates for the City Council from

registering their candidacies (Ref A). Dhlakama himself was

reportedly beaten on that day. In November 2002 about forty

ZANU-PF supporters attacked Dhlakama in his office injuring a

police officer, a bodyguard and damaging computers and

furniture (Ref B).

 

5. (U) The MDC will argue in Harare High Court on August 1

that nomination courts in Chegutu, Rusape, Bindura and

Marondera should be re-opened to allow MDC candidates to

register for the August 30 - 31 urban council and mayoral

elections.

 

Comment:

--------

 

6. (C) Under normal circumstances a damning government audit,

such as the one completed in Chegutu by the same Ministry

that oversees local government, should be enough to at least

investigate, if not suspend the city council itself. But on

planet Zimbabwe it appears that the MDC mayor will be

suspended instead, lawfully or not. The audit does put the

Ministry of Local Government in a quandary, how to respect

the results of its own audit without further tarring the

image of ZANU-PF in Chegutu. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

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