Harare’s new mayor Mudzuri: Eager to defy all odds
The Zimbabwe Mirror
ENGINEER Elias Mudzuri, the new executive mayor of Harare, is a man
working against all odds. The city council’s financial books were last audited
in 1998, and the road network, sewerage and water treatment plants have all
crumbled as a result of years of total neglect.
That apart, the 45-year-old mayor, who landed the city’s top job last week on
an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket, would also be working
against political odds. “I know that I have real challenges ahead of me. But,
being a person who worked in council for 13 years, it won’t be that difficult.
“I am accustomed to the operations of the council and I will use that to my
advantage,” said Mudzuri, who joined the council in 1986 as a junior engineer
and stuck with the municipality until he left under a cloud in 1999.
A fellow of the Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers, Mudzuri said his first
challenge is to push for an the audit of council’s financial books, followed by
a “consultation process” with people on issues affecting them.
His development plan also hinges on private sector involvement and people’s
participation in all the projects. Private companies and individuals would be
invited to come up with developmental project proposals, particularly as regards
housing and business enterprises. The gray-haired, clean-shaven mayor gave an
undertaking to companies that his council would make serviced land readily
He believes that private sector involvement, coupled with an “intensive”
programme to recover money from ratepayers and other institutions, would boost
Although he could not say how much money the council was owed, Mudzuri
lambasted the government for defaulting on payments of rates and bills amounting
to more than $750 million.
“I am appealing to the government to pay up. If it continues to destroy the
city by not paying the money, people will soon revolt when they feel
short-changed,” said Mudzuri.
The council’s books, still believed to be in shambles, were last audited in
1998, a year before a commission chaired by Elijah Chanakira was appointed to
run the affairs of Harare. Previously, the city was run by an executive led by
the former elected mayor, Solomon Tawengwa. But Tawengwa and his council were
relieved of their duties for alleged corruption and maladministration.
When the commission appointed by the then Minister of Local Government and
National Housing, John Nkomo, took over the affairs of the council, Harare had
an overdraft of over $100 million as well as debts amounting to over $229
The commission, which wound up its operations last week, claims it cleared
both the overdraft and debt in its first six months in office. Mudzuri realises
that much needs to be done to upgrade the city’s run-down infrastructure and
improve the erratic refuse collection. He is aware that the greater part of
Harare’s 3 000-km road network, its sewerage and water reticulation system need
Also confronting the new mayor is Harare’s housing backlog standing at over
150 000. Backyard shacks constructed on premises in most high-density suburbs
attest to this demand.
Mudzuri vowed to tackle the challenges head-on.
“I am actually touring the suburbs and water purification plants in Harare
this afternoon to get a true picture of the situation on the ground,” he said
when interviewed at Town House on Monday.
It was his first day at the office.
A Milton Park resident, the new mayor, who has already taken over the
Mercedes Benz that was used by Chanakira, said he would prefer not to stay in
the controversial mayoral mansion located in the leafy suburb of Gunhill. But
the council should find alternative accommodation for him, he added. It was up
to the council to decide what should be done about the palatial mayoral
Harare has already set aside $800 million for upgrading its roads. Yet, even
though the city receives an additional $60 million from the National Road Fund,
the money in hand is far less than the $5 billion required to rehabilitate some
roads that have outlived their life span. So far, some 52 roads were upgraded in
Mbare in January and another 45 were done last month. The city also upgraded 43
roads in Sunningdale and St Martin’s.
Mudzuri acknowledged the progress made by his predecessors. “I know the
commission tried its best, but a lot still needs to be done. With the
co-operation of the people, everything will normalise. Harare will be a sunshine
city again, devoid of litter and potholes,” he said.
Mudzuri, who also runs a civil engineering consultancy, warned that he would
not allow Town House to be used as a “political playground”.
“I will work with the Town Clerk and heads of departments to instill
discipline and restore normalcy here. I won’t deal directly with each and
everyone here, but I will ensure that the HODs discipline their juniors,” said
He held his first meeting with departmental heads on Monday.
Born in Zaka in 1957, Mudzuri trounced Zanu PF candidate Amos Midzi and
Billet Magara of the National Alliance for Good Governance to become Harare’s
He garnered 262 275 votes against Midzi’s 56 796 and Magara’s 3 457. There
were 1 907 spoilt papers.
A former Zanu PF activist, Mudzuri completed his “A” level studies at
Gokomere High School in Masvingo in 1977. The following year, he crossed into
Botswana where he worked with Dr Tichaendepi Masaya in the party’s structures.
At independence, Mudzuri returned home and worked for several companies,
including Caps Holdings and the Surveyor General’s office. Eager to further his
education, Mudzuri enrolled at Sierra Leone University where he graduated with
an engineering degree in 1986.
On completion, he joined Harare City Council as a junior engineer and rose
through the ranks to become the chief engineer until his departure in 1999.
Despite accepting his election as Harare’s first citizen, and with it, all
the trappings of high office, including the glare of publicity, Mudzuri was not
prepared to divulge details of his family life. Throughout the week, he
strenuously refused to yield to requests for even the slightest insight into the
woman and family behind Harare’s top man. Perhaps, when the cocktail party
invitations start rolling in, the new mayoress will be allowed to emerge from
March 21, 2002 4:30 PM EST JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—Zimbabwe is a
country on the threshold of total anarchy and economic collapse. With the recent
elections, the world is collectively holding its breath to see if the
beleaguered country will ever recover from the decades of abuse. Yet within this
political, social and economic catastrophe exists a mobile operator that is,
against all odds, exhibiting signs of becoming a success story—Econet Wireless.
African information technology (IT) and telecom research company
BMI-TechKnowledge recently conducted studies into the state of the Zimbabwean
telecommunications and IT market and found a thriving mobile industry.
"The fixed-line telephony market has yet to see the light at the end of the
liberalization tunnel and the economy is flailing, yet despite the almost
insurmountable troubles plaguing the country, the mobile market is managing to
fashion itself into a respectable industry," explained Dobek Pater,
Research has found that Econet Wireless has opened 19 communication centers
in the country by converting old buses to house communications facilities, such
as public phones and faxes, while in conjunction with its Internet arm, it has
established a number of Internet cafes.
Econet Wireless was also the first mobile operator in Africa to offer CNN and
BBC World News Service reports through mobile phones. Econet plans to introduce
mobile banking and wireless Internet access services to enhance network use by
customers. In conjunction with its Internet arm Ecoweb, Econet plans to offer
the first mobile information services in Zimbabwe, which would allow customers
to access a range of short message service (SMS) information services, such as
stock exchange results and local newspaper reports.
"Econet is a forward-thinking concern. The organization plans to continue to
acquire and build regional operations as successive African markets deregulate
and formerly state-owned telecommunications enterprises privatize," said Pater.
Telecel Zimbabwe is the other private mobile operator. It represents a
partnership between Telecel International and the Empowerment Corporation, a
group of local businesses. The mobile network operator plans to double its
capacity in terms of equipment installed. BMI-T estimates the subscriber base to
have reached more than 100,000 by the end of 2001. These assumptions are
predicated on the outcome of current negotiations for financing of expansion
plans. Telecel has an agreement with Siemens worth US$15 million to procure
According to BMI-T findings, Telecel has conducted negotiations with
state-owned Net*One regarding a potential merger to dethrone Econet from its
position as market leader.
"It remains to be seen if Zimbabwe can survive the latest onslaught in its
ruinous history, yet it seems that the need for effective mobile communication
services surmounts these troubles. Hopefully, the country will be able to
stabilize enough to ensure that commercial activity in the mobile communications
field can continue to prosper," concluded Pater.
Commonwealth can't bar Zimbabwe from Games: Aust PM
Howard CANBERRA, March 22 AAP|Published: Friday March 22, 9:11
The Commonwealth lacked the power to bar Zimbabwe from attending the
Commonwealth Games later this year, Prime Minister John Howard said today.
Mr Howard said he could understand why some people would want Zimbabwe banned
from participating in the games, to be held at Manchester in July.
But he said the Commonwealth, which suspended Zimbabwe's membership following
accusations of corruption and intimidation during the recent presidential
election, did not have the power to keep it away.
"Under the rules that we are operating under, we didn't have the capacity to
prevent Zimbabwe from competing. That is a matter for the Commonwealth Games
Federation," he told Channel Nine from London.
"I can understand why some people would want the federation to exclude
"But, in the end, that is a matter for the federation to determine. We don't
have the power to stop them."
Mr Howard said it was a question of working through the issues one at a
"The question of the future involvement of Zimbabwe in other activities is a
matter that can be addressed a little further down the track," he said.
Aust cricketers at risk in Zimbabwe - Foreign Min
Downer CANBERRA, March 21 AAP|Published: Friday March 22, 7:16
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer tonight warned Australia's cricketers were
at risk if they continued with a planned tour of Zimbabwe.
Mr Downer said if the Australian team played in Zimbabwe it would send the
wrong signals to the government of President Robert Mugabe.
He said that as Prime Minister John Howard had played a leading role in
Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth, they could become targets.
"There are real concerns within Zimbabwe about the safety of the players," he
told ABC television.
"Given Mr Howard's role in engineering the suspension of Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth there could be demonstrations against our cricketers and the like
so I just think in the interests of the cricketers it might be better if a
neutral ground is found for them to play on.
"I think the timing is unfortunate, and it has the potential to send the
wrong sorts of messages to Zimbabwe."
The Australian government issued a travel warning yesterday, saying people
thinking of visiting the African nation should put off their travel plans.
Australia is due to play two tests against Zimbabwe in a series that has been
planned for more than 12 months.
Mr Downer said he and his department have been in discussions with the
Australian Cricket Board about the series and the possible risks facing the
He said the test series should be moved to another country.
"I think if there were to be two tests played between Australia and Zimbabwe
it would be better if they were played on neutral ground rather than in
Zimbabwe," he said.
Mr Downer said the government could not bar the series from going ahead.
CCRA: Ghana on Thursday said that
it fully backed Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth after
controversial presidential polls and decried treason charges levelled against
main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Foreign Minister Hackman Owusu
Agyemang said that Accra totally supported a Commonwealth decision to suspend
Zimbabwe for a year.
"Basically we are taking a principled stand," he
said, adding Ghanaian observers sent to Zimbabwe had reported the lack of a
"level playing field" and of "criteria or international standards for free
and fair elections."
Longserving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was
declared the winner of the March 9-11 poll by a wide margin over chief rival
Tsvangirai, who immediately cried foul.
"We as members of the
Commonwealth stand by the decision which suspends Zimbabwe," the foreign
minister said. "We are not saying that Zimbabwe should be ostracised but
there is a need for negotiations."
Agyemang deplored the treason charges
laid against Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change leader, who
appeared in court Wednesday to face allegations he plotted to kill
The state's action "has the potential of throwing everything
overboard but we are hoping that the due process of the law will be
followed," he said.
"Basically the Commonwealth needs to speak to the
Zimbabwean government to try and encourage the two opposing factions to talk
to each other and accomodate each other."
Agyemang said that Ghanaian
President John Kufuor was "in constant touch" with Mugabe and Nigerian head
of state Olusegun Obasanjo to try and defuse the political tension in
The US this week added six Mugabe associates to a travel ban
against members of his party and government, bringing to 26 the number of
Zimbabwean officials, including Mugabe, who are now barred from the
President Thabo Mbeki has quietly affirmed the "legitimacy"
of the Zimbabwean election, after a week's silence in which he sought to
divert world attention from his judgement on the poll by pressing for a
coalition government in Zimbabwe.
This week's Cabinet statement said:
"President Mbeki has noted and accepted the report of the South African
parliamentary observer mission adopted by Parliament and the interim report
of the South African observer mission." Both missions found that the election
was a legitimate or credible expression of the Zimbabwean people's
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The statement said the government "will continue to relate
to the government of Zimbabwe as the elected government of that
The view of Mbeki and his party is at clear variance with his
decision, as a member of the Commonwealth "troika" of heads of state, to
suspend Zimbabwe for a year in response to the damning Commonwealth
Calling the suspension "an acceptable compromise",
African National Congress spin doctors contrived to suggest that Mbeki won a
major concession by staving off sanctions at the London troika meeting and
that there were mere differences of emphasis between the South African and
Commonwealth observer mission reports.
Cabinet spokesperson Joel
Netshitenzhe said all "labels" - including the Commonwealth observer finding
that the election outcome "did not adequately reflect the will of
Zimbabweans" - expressed "some form of displeasure on issues of legislation,
polarisation and violence". How different groups characterised the outcome
was a matter "of degree".
Diplomatic sources said this week that "smart"
sanctions against Zimbabwe's leaders by the United States and European Union
remain very much on the agenda. Britain was likely to be led by the
The deciding issue was not so much the participation of Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in coalition rule, as
sweeping changes in the policies of the Zimbabwean government. These would
have to include orderly land reform under the rule of law, electoral reform
and an end to the persecution of the MDC and its supporters.
African diplomacy this week was partly directed at goading Tsvangirai into
unity talks. Mugabe is known to blame the MDC leader's reluctance to join a
unity process for Zimbabwe's Commonwealth suspension. Mugabe's move to
rearrest Tsvangirai and charge him with treason is seen by
Zimbabwean commentators as revenge for the latter's stance on unity
Reacting in a curious statement, ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama
said the arrest "was part of the painful process of healing" and a chapter
that would close when Zimbabwe moved towards reconciliation, unity and peace.
The veiled threat appeared to be that the charges would stand until
Tsvangirai played ball.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard and
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw voiced concern at Tsvangirai's arrest.
"Any notion of prosecuting the opposition leader is quite inimical to the
concept of national reconciliation," said Howard.
In a further
intervention Netshitenzhe urged Zimbabweans not to participate in civil
protest. The Zimbabwean labour movement had called for a strike in protest
against the poll.
"On every detail of policy the South Africans are
acting as Mugabe's apologist," said Zimbabwe Independent editor Iden
Sources said Mbeki left Harare for London hoping to urge the
Commonwealth to avoid any punitive action, on the promise of a national
dialogue in Zimbabwe. His hand appears to have been forced by Howard's
insistence that the unity process had nothing to do with the status of the
election. Commonwealth ministers had made a clear decision in Coolum,
Australia, to stay their hand against Mugabe pending the observers' findings
on the conduct of the poll. Howard said later that given the mandate from
the Coolum encounter and "in relation to the flawed and undemocratic
character of the election one really had no alternative than to reach the
decision we did".
Mugabe, who was banking on the support of Third
World Commonwealth members, is said to have been deeply upset when news of
the suspension was broken to him. He was partly mollified when told it would
be coupled with economic assistance and food aid.
Wetherell said there
had been a noticeable change in ruling party atmospherics in Zimbabwe. One
sign was an editorial in Zanu-PF's media front, The Herald, saying the two
million MDC voters had to be accommodated and urging national
Mugabe appeared to show an awareness of his international
isolation and of Zimbabwe's desperate economic plight. Apart from the
Commonwealth decision, only five of 22 invited heads of state attended his
Western diplomats hope that unity talks will start soon,
but Wetherell is pessimistic about an outcome. The MDC was reluctant to be
"co-opted and emasculated", as Joshua Nkomo's Zapu had been in 1980. It
wanted fresh elections under international supervision and a dismantling of
Zanu-PF's repressive state apparatus, including a new chief justice and
police commissioner. Mugabe was unlikely to make such
Reacting to ANC MPs' endorsement of the election this week,
the Democratic Alliance's Dene Smuts said the ANC refused to call "the rape
of democracy" in Zimbabwe by its name. "It must be very confusing for the ANC
to be instructed to vote one way, only to see the president effectively
instructed to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth on the same
A psychometric study by a United States university has found
that Robert Mugabe suffers from a "bureaucratic-compulsive" syndrome and that
he is likely to become increasingly dogmatic, inflexible and
The unit for the study of personality in politics, in the
psychology department of St John's University in Minnesota, based its
assessment on media reports using Theodore Millon's inventory of diagnostic
criteria. The study, conducted in October, was prepared for the
Millon says leaders with this syndrome "are noted for their
officious, high-handed bearing; intrusive, meddlesome interpersonal
conduct; unimaginative, closed-minded cognitive style; grim, imperturbable
mood and scrupulous if grandiose sense of self".
The study says
Mugabe's "controlling, virtuous but moralistic upbringing with high
expectations of perfection" was influential.
Mugabe registers high scores
on the diagnostic criteria of "dominant" (asserting, controlling,
aggressive), "ambitious" (confident, arrogant, exploitative, narcissistic),
"conscientious" (respectful, dutiful, obsessive-compulsive) and "distrusting"
(paranoid), with a relatively high score for "retiring" (aloof).
the "distrusting" scale, it finds Mugabe's score is high enough to "suggest a
dysfunctionally suspicious personality orientation".
The unit likens
Mugabe to other high-dominance introverts in leadership positions, such as
former US presidents Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover, saying they divide
the world between "us and them" and are quite willing to use military
It concludes that Mugabe is likely to become increasingly
suspicious, thin-skinned, vengeful, self-righteous and impervious to
OPINION March 22, 2002 Posted to the web March 21,
When the state uses violence to suppress
personal liberties, it sends the message that it is acceptable to violate the
rights of others
NO blows BARRED
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2002 guidebook, click here. (Adobe Acrobat).
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There are many reasons why the situation in Zimbabwe
is disturbing. One of these is the dissolution of that social contract
between a state and its people and its serious consequences for
"A government of the people by the people" implies a social
contract between the state and the people where each has obligations to the
other. This includes our moral code, the standard of behaviour that we are
obliged to uphold. Laws dictate these socially acceptable standards of
behaviour. Individuals are inclined to accept these obligations if they feel
there exists a social contract binding them with other individuals and with
the rest of society in general.
According to this notion, the state is
formed as a consequence of our collective recognition that a legitimate force
is needed to perform such "social contract" functions as providing police,
courts and the military. On this basis, the people are obliged to pay taxes
to the state and abide by its rules in exchange for the protection they get
from the police, courts and military. In turn, the state is obliged to
protect the people. In theory, there is both mutual agreement and obligation
between the state and the people. It requires confidence among ordinary
people that the state has integrity, that it can be trusted to act in their
best interests. It requires a respect based on an understanding that these
obligations are a function of a relationship that at its core is voluntary,
where power is lent to the state by the people.
However, when the
state implements and enforces unjust and unpopular laws, it violates the
social contract. When it uses violence to suppress personal liberties, it
sends the message that it is acceptable to violate the rights of
It could be argued that the prevalence of violence and the
ubiquitous distrust in today's society is a consequence of the undermining by
the state of the moral force of the social contract. In such a scenario it
does not take much to reorient institutions meant to "protect" the people to
become instruments of harassment and intimidation where the state cannot be
said to be using its force legitimately. We need look no further than South
Africa's past. The role of the courts, the military and the police in
suppressing legitimate concerns raised by the African majority is well
documented. Every conceivable instrument of coercion and suppression was
unleashed to protect the interests of the minority regime. That a simple
declaration, "the people shall govern" - which envisaged the inclusion as
equals in this social contract of all the people, irrespective of their race,
class, gender, and social origin - could be considered treasonous bears
testimony to the moral bankruptcy of apartheid.
The stigma the crime
of treason carries, and the vagueness of its reach, makes it a notorious
instrument of arbitrary power and political repression. Derived from English
law, treason included, "to compass or imagine the death of our Lord the
King", or to "levy war against our Lord the King in his realm". Imagining the
king's death became a principal instrument by which "treason" was employed in
England for the most drastic "lawful" suppression of political opposition or
the expression of ideas or beliefs distasteful to those in power.
countries have tried to minimise this inherent vagueness. For
instance, treason against the United States "shall consist only in levying
War against the States, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and
Comfort" (Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution). The omission of
any provision analogous to that of plotting the king's death prevents the use
of treason trials as a political instrument. Mere expression of beliefs is
not deemed treasonous.
Local history is replete with incidences where
the powerful have employed treason indictments against individuals who stood
up to them. In a sense, in toying with the idea of treason, the ruling
Zanu-PF is resorting to the same old tactic to complement its strategies of
intimidation and harassment. Developments in Zimbabwe bear testimony to
attempts by the ruling elite to manipulate the social contract for nefarious
objectives. Trust between the state and the people it is intended to serve
has been damaged, the social contract desecrated. How do citizens accept the
moral force of a social contract under these circumstances?
being outraged by the machinations of Zimbabwe's ruling elite to undermine
democracy, the South African government has resorted to the
usual prevarication and obscurantism - arguing that, while the elections were
not entirely free or fair, they are legitimate and credible - whatever
that means. Accordingly we need to ask: how many people should actually
die before we condemn state-sponsored terror for the abominable barbarism it
The official observer mission of both the South African government
and the African National Congress were willing to pronounce the elections
credible despite thousands of voters being turned away and driven from the
polling stations; despite thousands of voters being illegally struck off the
voters' roll; despite thousands being displaced from their constituencies
by violence, thus losing their right to vote as a result of immoral
and unconstitutional laws forced on them by presidential decree; despite the
two years of state-sponsored terror preceding the poll; despite the
clamping down on free activity in the media. By contrast, both local
and international media were quick to declare that these elections were
neither free nor fair.
How should ordinary Zimbabweans, and other
Africans for that matter, view our claim to lead an African Renaissance when
we seem unwilling to openly affirm their human dignity? Perhaps we are
expecting too much. After all, South Africa has become the home of fictitious
plots and breeder of bizarre theories and conspiracies. Those who have lost
public trust and are politically desperate often find refuge in imagining
plots and instituting charges of treason. They need to be reminded of the
fragility of the integrity of the social contract.
Moses Mzila, a Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC)MP for Plumtree North, is a hurt man. Almost two decades ago he
left his job as a schoolteacher to become a member of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe
African People's Union (Zapu) and opened his home to African National
Congress freedom fighters in Bulawayo.
He was among the first to
construct secret compartments in cars to smuggle weapons out of Zimbabwe for
the ANC. "My home, 12 Irene Avenue, was the base for Operation Vula [a plan,
launched in 1986, to build-up underground ANC structures in South Africa].
Any ANC member working from Zimbabwe knew my home from 1978 to 1992," says
He cannot understand how the MDC can be dismissed as a puppet
of the West or how ANC members can digest Zanu-PF's "struggle credentials"
and declare the recent elections in Zimbabwe free and fair.
"We - the
ANC and Zapu - were comrades in a struggle to bring freedom of speech and
association to our people - how can they [the ANC] turn their backs on
Mzila's name appeared on a list of people who the ANC felt
indebted to for having served its interests during its struggle against
apartheid. He qualified for a pension from the ANC, but could not claim it as
he was not a South African.
"I do not want the pension, only
recognition for our contribution that we were with the ANC," says Mzila.
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union was then anti-ANC.
has concluded its fight, but Mzila's struggle continues.
Last November he
saw two policemen carrying jerry cans near the MDC's regional office in
Bulawayo. Minutes later the offices were on fire.
Mzila gave an interview
to a foreign news agency describing what he saw. Two days later he was
arrested and charged with murder. Later the charges were changed to
kidnapping an MDC supporter.
"Clearly the powers that be had seen my
interview on foreign news networks," he says. Mzila is to appear in court
Mzila lives in fear and, like many MDC MPs, is always on the
He says the MDC is modelled after the non-racial ethos of the ANC.
"I saw that the ANC had white, Indians and coloured members - that is why we
have people from all racial groupings in the MDC too. How can we be charged
with pandering to the West?"