Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent
On the run Harare City Council director of works Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama wanted by the police for alleged criminal abuse of office has refuted claims that he is in hiding but said he is on leave and residing at his residential address in Waterfalls in Harare.
Chawatama stands accused of assuming the town clerk duties last year in December without following proper appointment procedures since the suspension of substantive town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango.
He made the headlines recently after allegedly escaping a high speed police chase near Chitungwiza and is wanted by the law enforcements agents for assuming town clerk duties unlawfully.
Through his lawyers Zinyengerere Rupapa Legal Practitioners, Chawatama last week wrote to the Acting Mayor Stewart Mutizwa telling him that he became a “de facto town clerk” by virtue of being the only substantive head of department on duty after acting town clerk Dr Prosper Chonzi took a brief leave.
Chawatama, who has since applied for leave himself, allegedly harassed and suspended council workers during his brief “self-appointed reign” as town clerk.
“On December 8, Dr Chonzi appointed our client to the position of acting town clerk in his absence as he was attending to some council business,” reads part of the letter from his lawyers.
“The appointment was supposedly for two days, being the 9th and 10th of December.
“On his return, Dr Chonzi applied for and went for leave leaving our client as the de facto town clerk in the absence of any other substantive departmental head competent to assume and serve office.
“Your office embraced our client’s discharge of duties relating to his acting position.”
In the letter, Engineer Chawatama who is rejecting claims that he is on the run also disclosed that law enforcement agents raided his colleague’s house in Borrowdale, Harare looking for him.
The lawyers claimed that two people from the law enforcement agents that attended his office on February 1 supposedly looking for him have not contacted him to date.
“They met his personal assistant and here maintained communication with her and in the course of same advised her that our client is not wanted by the police.
“It is ironic that on the 9th of February 2021, the same gentlemen who met our client’s PA attended at House Number 2 Armadale in Borrowdale (Harare) were a Council employee by the name Shiripinda who works in the Council police stays. They arrived in typical movie style and ransacked her house allegedly searching for our client. They have not attended at his Waterfalls house to date where he resides.
“That said, we put on record that our client is available to attend to your office for any Council related business for which his obtaining leave cannot wait. He is not a fugitive.”
Acting Mayor Mutizwa however, told our publication that claims that Chawatama acted unlawfully an unfounded smokescreen.
“He has gone on leave, he is not on the run,” he said.
“All these claims are just a smokescreen, how can someone appoint himself to a position? These are just people bent on tarnishing his image.”