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Acting mayor absolves Chombo of blame

Augustine Mukaro

HARARE acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and the James Kurasha committee have absolved Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo of any wrong-doing in his interference w

ith the running of council affairs as well as harassing councillors through unilateral suspensions and dismissals.

Chombo’s meddling in council forced 18 Movement for Democratic Change councillors to resign en masse citing excessive interference by the minister ursuping powers in the Urban Councils Act.

The other 19 councillors had been dismissed from council.

The Kurasha committee recommended the firing of former mayor Elias Mudzuri from the council earlier this year.

A transcript of the Kurasha committee’s deliberations shows that Chombo’s motive in suspending and subsequently dismissing the mayor was to solve political problems. But the committee did not want the minister to be accused of political motives in his actions.

The committee said the removal of Mudzuri was critical for the improvement of Harare because his stay would have destabilised the lo-cal authority.

“I don’t want the minister to be accused of political intentions because in this case, we are establishing that there are clear administrative factors that led the minister to the suspension,” the chairman said.

In her submission Makwavarara also exonerated Chombo of subverting council authority. Instead she accused Mudzuri of running down the city.

“I use to think kuti (that) va Chombo ndivo vari kundoita (was) mess(ing) around in the council,” Makwavarara said. “It is not him. Because now I am in the hot chair on my own. Now, I am seeing everything. The man who is messing around in Harare is Mudzuri himself.”

She said: “I also used to say that kuti ndofunga (I think) va Chombo is interfering too much in council business as well but iye zvino ndakuona kuti kwete handizvo (now I can see that, No, it’s not it).”

Makwavarara said Mudzuri was carrying out council duties without consulting other councillors so that in all cases his decisions would carry the day.

“A lot of things zvaiitika ndezvekuti izvo (that were happening), the man could just sideline you and you won’t know what will happen,” she said.

“The information we have is that he would invite his right hand men Nhari and Munengami to the mansion during the weekends. Myself and Dr Mushonga were excluded. So he could caucus with the two members. By the time we got together for our executive committee meeting, he would call the four of us in his office and say this is what we have to do. Any attempts to oppose his word would be quashed by the other members who would have agreed to his proposals.

“So it became very difficult for us to operate this council,” she said.

Makwavarara alleges that Mudzuri used to violate council procedures to suit his own needs.

“I understand even in procurement, the chair would be told what to do,” she said.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) this week said Town House fortunes took a nosedive from the time when the now dismissed mayor Mudzuri was suspended and subsequently dismissed.

CHRA is taking government to court to force it to hold mayoral elections.

It said Makwavarara had completely dropped the stakeholders’ consultation system resulting in council coming up with absurd rate increases.

* Meanwhile, Chombo yesterday announced a commission to run the City of Harare.

The commission is chaired by acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and includes politician Tendai Savanhu and prominent architect Michael Mahachi. Other commissioners are Noel Muzuva, Terrence Hussein and Professor Kurasha.

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