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Zimbabwe Minister Accused of Interference In Harare Municipal Affairs

An organization representing citizens of Harare, Zimbabwe, charged Wednesday that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has improperly interfered with the capital's municipal government by seeking to block an investigation of Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi.

The Harare City Council has initiated an audit of a cattle farm operated by the municipality in response to allegations of irregularities in the disposition of livestock by auction.

The Combined Harare Residents Association said Chombo flexed his political muscles in the case by ordering the city to halt action against Mahachi even before an investigation in the matter was completed. The clerk himself has refused to cooperate with auditors.

Chombo and Mahachi are members of the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe whereas most council members belong to the Movement for Democratic Change, which claimed a parliamentary majority and control of most cities in 2008 elections.

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto confirmed that Chombo has now sent a letter to the council in the matter, but would not disclose the contents of the minister's communication.

Combined Harare Residents Association Chairman Simbabrashe Moyo told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Chombo’s moves will hinder development of the city, run for years by a commission appointed by the central government.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...