Self-appointed acting Harare City Council town clerk Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama yesterday escaped arrest on charges associated with abuse of office after evading the police in a dramatic high speed chase down Simon Mazorodze and Chitungwiza roads.
Eng Chawatama, who is the city’s director of works, is now on the police wanted list.
Sources told The Herald that the police arrived at Town House to arrest Eng Chawatama who had tried to extend a three-day acting appointment early last month to a permanent posting to the Town Clerk’s Office.
But he heard word of the police arrival and raced into the car park, jumped into an MP300 vehicle with the city council logo, and sped off at high speed. The police team gave chase.
Eng Chawatama managed to get into Simon Mazorodze Road, probably by cutting a couple of blocks south from Town House and then racing down Fidel Castro Road to the flyover, and was heading south.
“The police were going after him, trying all means to get him to stop. But he did not. Instead he increased speed. But it was clear that he knew he was being chased,” said a source.
Upon arrival at Mbudzi Roundabout, Eng Chawatama turned left into Chitungwiza Road, which at first sight seemed to be an error.
“When he crossed the bridge on Manyame River, he realised there was a roadblock in front,” said the source. “At the same time the police were flashing him, signalling him to stop. He reduced speed and pretended to stop after the police came up on the side of his vehicle.
“All of a sudden and without warning, Chawatama made a dangerous U-turn in front of other vehicles that were moving towards the roadblock. He sped off at high speed going back to Mbudzi Roundabout.”
And in the swirling heavy traffic he made good his escape.
Although he could not give details, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed Eng Chawatama had evaded arrested after the dramatic chase.
“Yes, I can confirm that there was a high speed chase where Chawatama was evading arrest by the police,” he said. “Police are still looking for him and we want him to know that the net is closing in on him.”
Director and chairman of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the President’s Office (Sacu) Mr Tabani Mpofu said it was too early to comment on Eng Chawatama, but the public will be made aware once he was arrested and taken to court.
Eng Chawatama appointed himself acting town clerk illegally and without a shred of authority and was making executive decisions that had a bearing on council’s operations.
According to a letter on December 8 last year, he was indeed appointed to act as town clerk, but for just three days while then acting town clerk Dr Prosper Chonzi was away on council business.
That letter is his sole excuse for staying in the post. After the three days, Eng Chawatama refused to relinquish his acting position and continued to act as the town clerk, making executive decisions.
On January 15, the then Harare council acting mayor Cllr Luckson Mukunguma wrote to Eng Chawatama telling him that he was no longer the acting town clerk, but he ignored that letter.
In his letter, Clr Mukunguma said: “It has come to my attention that you are moving around purporting to be the acting town clerk, making key appointments based on the same.
I wish to remind you that the town clerk remains Engineer Hosiah Chisango. By copy of this letter, you are hereby warned to stop masquerading as the acting town clerk as the same amounts to gross misconduct.”
On January 18 Eng Chawatama, in total defiance of the letter he had received just three days earlier, wrote to all heads of departments on the restructuring of the council’s operations. He signed the letter as the acting town clerk.
Clr Mukunguma then reported Eng Chawatama to the Special Anti-Corruption Unit for his illegal actions in usurping the post and indicated that Eng Chawatama was also nullifying lawful decisions made by the Eng Chisango as the town clerk.