Zim Authorities Intimidate Protestor To End Hunger Strike

Harare, February 12, 2014 – Zimbabwean authorities have intimidated a Harare man who has been on a week-long hunger strike to end his protest.Authorities from Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni and some state security agents reportedly teamed up in taking turns to intimidate Philosophy Nyapfumbi, the man who had been on a hunger strike over the reinstatement of Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi.

The authorities who included the Police Internal Security Investigations demanded to know his residential address and other personal details.Manyenyeni reportedly protested to Nyapfumbi that his protest was scaring away investors from committing resources to the local authority.

The threats and the appeal by Manyenyeni led Nyapfumbi to suspend his hunger strike after assurances by the Mayor that HCC will undertake a forensic audit into the finances of the local authority.Nyapfumbi embarked on a hunger strike early last week to protest Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo’s decision to reinstate Mahachi as Harare City Council (HCC) Town Clerk.

Mahachi was suspended by Manyenyeni late last month in conformity with the Mayor’s exercise of his prerogative in terms of Section 139 (3) (a) of the Urban Councils Act for allegedly failing to properly discharge his duties after he refused to give effect to a Council resolution to provide the salary and benefits schedule of all HCC senior employees including his own schedule.

The suspension, Manyenyeni said would pave the way to probe Mahachi’s conduct and also launch investigations into the affairs and finances of the HCC.But Chombo early this month overturned Mahachi’s suspension on the basis that he was empowered under Section 134 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) to reverse Manyenyeni’s decision.Besides incensing Nyapfumbi, Chombo’s actions also infuriated human rights lawyer Tawanda Zhuwarara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who protested that such a move was objectionable and that Chombo’s purported powers in terms of Section 314 of the Urban Councils Act can only be exercised in regards to Council and not Mayoral decisions.