Mugabe Reverts To Type, Readies To Usurp Democratic Powers Again
The Chitungwiza Town Council Crest: Ignatious Chombo, Minister of Local Government and Mugabe loyalist, is preparing to take over the administration of area after the jailing of the MDC-T on corruption charges. The mayor has been sentenced to an effective one year in prison
Harare, Zimbabwe 21 August 2009
It has emerged that, after the jailing of Chitungwiza Town Council Mayor Marange, Ignatious Chombo, the Minister in charge of Local Government in Zimbabwe, intends to set up a Commission to run the dormitory town on the outskirts of Harare.
When I went to Chitungwiza to photograph the shallow graves at Unit L Cemetery which residents say contain bodies of the victims of the Chiadzwa Diamond Fields massacre, there was open bitterness towards the mayor.
Residents claimed that Marange had been "paid off" by Minister Chombo to agree to accept the bodies and that the mayor was now in bed with the ZANU PF regime.
Marange was convicted of accepting a bribe of US$1000 from a desperate home-seeker and has been sentenced to an effective one year in jail.
Councillors in Chitungwiza are allowed to vote in a new mayor but there are strong indications that Chombo has already put together a case alleging incompetence by the whole Council, citing "in-fighting, neglect of services and residents" as the reason for disbanding the Council and putting a Commission in their place to run the affairs of Chitungwiza.
Chombo and Mugabe are said to be calculating that the widespread discontent by Chitungwiza residents means that any move they make towards establishing a Commission would be well received.
Mugabe and Chombo have done this before, disbanding democratically elected Councils and putting Commissions in their place. ZANU PF remains in denial about the fact that they have lost the cities, which will always go an opposition, since they face the brunt of the economic decline in the country.
Recently state media has upped the volume in their criticism of City Councils run by the MDC-T, especially the Harare one, where barely a day passes without them reminding residents about the lack of service delivery, the extravagant expenditures of the council and a host of other issues.
They forget, of course, that Elias Mudzuri, the most effective mayor of Harare in the last fifteen years, had started repaving the roads, sourcing funds from sister cities in Germany and other places, before they moved to remove him because of his very effectiveness.
The subsequent rot in Harare, especially, was presided over by the ZANU PF appointee, Sekesai Makwavarara, who spent obscene amounts of money on satellite television, curtains and so on.
Still, the two, Mugabe and Chombo, know that they still hold all the power and there is nothing that Tsvangirai and his people can do about this.