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MDC fully behind Harare for defying Zanu PF and Chombo's senseless directives
Movement for Democratic Change
November 18, 2010

Ignatius Chiminya Chombo, a Zanu PF politburo member and the Minister of Local Government, looks determined to fleece Harare's residents of their hard-earned income and to sabotage service delivery through unending investigations and blatant interference into the affairs of the city. The MDC is concerned that after Chombo probed the council for what he called irregular evictions of residents from council houses and suspended the councillors he suspected of wrong-doing, he launched yet another committee to pursue the same issue at an astronomical cost to the council.

In both cases, Chombo simply fixes the charges for the investigations, without any justification or consultation with either the council or Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda, sparking unnecessary confrontation to the detriment of the city's residents and rate-payers. The MDC fully supports Mayor Masunda in his refusal to folk out more than US$100 000 for Chombo's new nine-member team, chaired by lawyer Andrew Makoni. Mayor Masunda is right to protect the people by querying the rationale of setting up two separate teams to conduct essentially the same probe, in particular over Chombo's apparent failure to explain the manner in which he decided on the team's collective fee.

Chombo says the Urban Councils Act allows for the local authority to pay for any investigators that the Government commissions. But how did he fix lawyer Makoni's fee at US$30 000; US$18 000 for a T. Mangami; US$13 000 each for a F. Mbetsa, a T. Goko and a Mrs Chimoga; US$9 000 for a Mrs B. Rubwe; and US$8 500 for a C. Musango. In addition, Harare is expected to pay an interpreter identified only as Matubu US$8 500 with Mr F. Matuku, the transcriber, another US$6 000.

Notwithstanding the above, the Harare City Council has already paid US$37 000 under protest to the Kwenda committee Chombo appointed earlier for a similar assignment. It is common cause that since Chombo and Zanu PF fired the democratically elected council, led by Engineer Elias Mudzuri in 2004 and replaced it with illegal commissions for nearly five years, Chombo was effectively the actual executive mayor of Harare for nearly half a decade. In that period, the city slumped into an abyss, lost its patina and became a Zanu PF looters' closet.

At the time, Chombo flatly refused to allow residents to elect a council in terms of the same Urban Councils Act to which he seeks refuge today. The High Court issued several court orders requiring Chombo to observe the rule of law, which he ignored without shame. In 2007, after dumping the Makwavara commission, Chombo brazenly appointed Michael Mahachi, his former school-mate and personal friend at Kutama Mission to front for him at Harare City Council.

After the 29 March 2008 elections, Chombo delayed the swearing in of democratically elected councillors for 63 days, in a clear breach of the Urban Councils Act, to fast-track critical decisions for his own personal benefit and whose impact negatively continues to affect by the people of Harare today. These include the appointment of what he called a care-taker council, again led by Michael Mahachi; the change of use and allocation of 20 hectares of prime suburban land in Hellensvale to Chombo's private company, Harvest-net; the awarding of lucrative contracts to a shadowy company to acquire land and to build the Harare Airport Road; and the illegal employment of 742 council workers, mainly Zanu PF fanatics, to key municipal posts.

The MDC maintains its position that Chombo has gone too far. The party believes the man is unfit for public office and must be restrained, as a matter of urgency. The party is fully behind the Masunda-led council in its desire to bring back the shine to Harare. There is absolutely no basis for the council to fork out such an obscene fee for Chombo's political projects.

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