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Chawatama’s reign of terror at Harare City

By Blessed Mhlanga

Self-imposed Harare acting town clerk, engineer Zvenyika Chawatama is said to have presided over a reign of terror at the Harare City Council before police came for him last week, it has emerged.

Harare City Council director of works Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama
Harare City Council director of works Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama

Chawatama took over as acting town clerk on December 8, 2020.

After taking over, he is said to have unleashed a reign of terror, suspending senior managers, as well as issuing directives that led to the crippling of operations at the local authority.His letter of appointment last year written by then acting town clerk, Prosper Chonzi read: “I have appointed you to act in the higher position of town clerk, from the 9th to 11th December 2020, while I will be away on council business.”

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However, it is alleged that on January 13, way after the expiry of his appointment as acting town clerk, Chawatama issued a memo instructing council workers not to respect any orders or instructions given by council employees who were at work, but were on bail.

Reports say Chawatama was involved in a high speed chase with police after evading arrest at the Town House on Friday.

Councillors felt that his statement violated labour regulations and was also not according to council resolutions.

A councillor, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, said:

“This letter was illegal because he had no capacity to issue such orders. He is just a director of works, and from December 11, he had reverted to his post. Even if he was still acting town clerk, that decision can only be made in line with the code of conduct of the local authority. How workers are suspended is a labour issue.”

After barring workers that were on bail from reporting for duty, Chawatama is said to have broken his own directive after he reinstated his close friend, chief security officer Collen Tongowona, who had been suspended.

Tongowona is allegedly out on bail after having been accused of corruptly allowing a land developer to work on an unserviced stand in Marlborough, without a compliance certificate from council.

Immediately on his return on January 21, Tongowona is said to have issued a memo barring town clerk Hosiah Chisango and other council employees from reporting for duty.

“Be advised that the attached list of council employees who are on suspension or on bail do have pending cases with the courts of law. They should not be allowed entry at any council premises until their cases are concluded,” Tongowona, who also had a pending court case, wrote to other employees.

Chawatama allegedly used his new-found powers to remove Bozman Matengarufu who had been appointed acting human resources manager by Chisango on January 15.

He then appointed Stewart Mungofa to the post.

“Please note that there are various irregularities, unprocedural and illegal actions surrounding your appointment to act in the higher position of human capital director,” he wrote in the letter revoking Matengarufu’s appointment.

It is now said the Special Anti-Corruption Unit wants to investigate Chawatama for the alleged unilateral decisions he made in a bid to cover up his own cases of alleged corruption and abuse of office when he was director of works. News Day