Editor’s Memo

Of Chideya and the Haul of Fame

By Vincent Kahiya

IN the book Profiles in Courage, the late US President JF Kennedy spoke about political leaders who sacrificed their own continuation in office in pursuit o

f a noble cause. These were individuals who produced public goods even when doing so meant losing their job. Few leaders have this profile in courage.


If citizens were to choose leaders to belong to a leadership Hall of Fame they might select individuals who consistently, over a long career in office, produce peace and prosperity for their country.


Peace and prosperity, after all, are the cornerstones of a flourishing, successful government that does its utmost to promote the well-being of its citizens.


Kennedy said if national leaders themselves were to select candidates for a leadership Hall of Fame, their criteria might be different. They might forego measures of peace and prosperity and just emphasise longevity in office. Long tenure is not necessarily the hallmark of a government that promotes social welfare, but it is the hallmark of a politically successful leader, he argued.


For more cynical analysts, leaders stay in office for personal aggrandisement and to create opportunities to steal from the state. These leaders would fit in the “Haul of Fame”. Closer to home, poor Harare Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya who is fighting for political survival again at Town House in Harare is not a candidate for the Hall of Fame despite his 10 years service as Town Clerk.


The current attempt to elbow him out from his post as the most senior bureaucrat in Harare has evoked some sympathy because the aggressor is the super-inefficient Sekesai Makwavarara who is surprisingly conscious that useless officials should be fired.


Her record of delivery in Harare is as dubious as the acclaim bestowed on her by Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo who recently told us of the good work the political turncoat was doing in Harare.


There is no better way of being inducted into the “Haul of Fame” than being foisted on a city that regards you as a nuisance. To government, she is a convenient mess as long as her presence ensures that the opposition MDC is kept out of Town House. This should give Chideya hope and a sense of security but this should not be his lifebuoy. He should demonstrate to city dwellers that he deserves the position of Town Clerk because of his record of delivery which I do not see.


Chideya could enter record books for long service in fighting for survival to keep his job.


When he came to Town House for the first time in 1998, the late Harare Executive Mayor Solomon Tawengwa immediately launched an onslaught to drive him out on the premise that he could not perform.


He survived this wave of attack and should have rejoiced the firing of Tawengwa and the subsequent appointment of a commission chaired by Elijah Chanakira to run the affairs of the city.


But Chideya was soon out of favour with the Chanakira Commission which also sought to have him removed from the position on the pretext that he was failing to deliver.


He again survived this turbulent era in which the commissioners presided over a period of a steep decline in service delivery in the city.


Municipal elections in Harare in 2002 brought in Elias Mudzuri as executive mayor. City centre roads were resurfaced and the Africa Unity Square fountains started to work after a long period of inactivity.


Chideya was quick to associate himself with this success until October 2002 when Mudzuri suspended him on allegations of inefficiency. Chideya was subsequently restored to his position by government and immediately assumed executive powers at Town House.


He warned officials against drawing undue interference from politicians in council affairs.


His opportunism was manifest when Chombo appointed the Kurasha Commission to investigate the conduct of the suspended Mudzuri. Like his current nemesis Makwavarara, he told the commission that Mudzuri should not come back to Town House.


“I actually wanted him (Mudzuri) trapped and unfortunately the wheel of justice takes its time,” Chideya said. “I mean I am aware that the mayor was not comfortable in our own family situation. I am actually married to a CIO operative, my wife works for the President’s Office.”


His wish was granted and Mudzuri was fired.


This is the same Chideya whom Makwavarara has said should be removed from Town House on medical grounds. Apparently a job has been organised for Chideya at the Urban Development Corporation which I believe is not an infirmary.


I feel pity for Chideya; especially his quest to stay at Town House at all costs. My advice to him is to leave the “Haul of Fame” to those who are schooled in the art of “hauling”.