Sekesai Makwavarara

Sekesai Makwavarara was a Zanu PF member, switched to the MDC, and was elected in 2002 by Mabvuku as their Councillor to Harare City Council. She became acting Mayor of Harare after Elias Mudzuri was dismissed. In 2004 she resigned from the MDC. After Ignatious Chombo dissolved Council, she was appointed to head the Commission that he set up to replace it. Her ostentatious spending, especially during and after Operation Murambatsvina (which she was involved in) did not endear her to the population of Harare. She was dissolved along with the Commission for the 2008 elections. She was mentioned in 2006, in connection with revelations during the hearing into the suspension of Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya. In 2019 she was arrested for corruption, and the trial is ongoing.

Personal Details

Born, 1958.

School / Education

No information is available.

Service / Career

Member of Zanu PF. 2002 – Elected to Harare City Council, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), from Mabvuku. 2002 – Elected Deputy Mayor (under Elias Mudzuri). 2004 – Mudzuri removed from office by Minister of Lcoal Government, Ignatius Chombo. Makwavarara appointed as acting Mayor. MDC launch corruption probe. Resigns. Re-joins Zanu PF. Chombo dismisses whole Council. 2006 – Commission appointed to run Harare. Makwavarara heads Commission. 2008 – Commission dissolved, elections held.


In mid-2004, the MDC Council conducted elections, to choose a deputy mayor, who would have replaced Makwavarara, who resigned from the MDC after her party ordered her to relinquish her post as acting mayor. As a result, Ignatius Chombo suspended 13 MDC councilors, [1]

She was not liked by the populace, as this press article shows: Giving Makwavarara an effective two years at the helm at Town House has broken all records that Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo, has ever set in making sure that Harare ratepayers remain disenfranchised. Chombo’s claims that he is satisfied by the performance of the commission have baffled many. Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe (UZ) lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, contested Chombo’s claims. Masunungure said he found no plausible reason other than political expediency for Makwavarara’s reappointment adding: “She is the personification of incompetence.” Whatever makes Makwavarara indispensable, no one knows for sure. But one former Zanu PF legislator, Philip Chiyangwa, provided a good indicator when he urged people who wanted to enrich themselves to join the ruling party Zanu PF.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) appears to have washed its hands of responsibility in the fiasco at the Town House as it has failed to organise elections for the city by giving reasons that raise more questions about the electoral body’s independence. ZEC spokesperson Utloile Silaigwana said his commission is yet to set a date for elections in Harare as it is still consulting with authorities where elections are due. “Councils are the ones that fund elections and so we are still consulting authorities. We don’t know when we are going to finish the consultations,” Silaigwana said. Makwavarara’s recent re-appointment might result in the government delaying council elections for Harare until 2008.

Unsure of her future at the helm of the commission and bidding to strip council assets bare, Makwavarara set her sights on buying an upmarket house at a give-away price of $780 million with the tacit approval from Chombo who approved the sale that could have prejudiced council of billions of dollars. The house, which is in the Highlands/Chisipite area, was estimated to cost $20 billion by independent evaluators. [2]

Aside from the general population, she caused splits in Zanu PF over the continued tenure of her “extravagance-loving” term in office. The Harare branch central committee passed a vote of “no confidence” in Sekesai Makwavarara in 2006. This came only a few days after Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo extended by another six months her tenure. William Nhara, a spokesperson for the Harare central province branch of Zanu-PF, accused Makwavarara of flouting tender procedures to the detriment of ratepayers. Makwavarara had undermined the ruling party and lacks professionalism and leadership qualities. [3]

She was criticised in the press in 2006 for ostentatious living - wanting the City of Harare to fund the purchase of $35 billion worth of new curtains for the mayoral mansion (into which she had moved). The commission approved a move to purchase luxury vehicles for the workforce. In April it was revealed she requested payment of $103 million for a decoder and satellite dish to be authorised. It was established that she had a satellite dish and decoder installed at the mayoral mansion without the commission’s approval.

All this at a time substantial issues remain - of refuse collection, repair of burst sewer and water pipes, water treatment and supply, road repairs and the plight of victims of Operation Murambatsvina who continue to suffer, almost a year after the demolitions and displacements. [4]

The chairman of the Commission running the City of Harare, Sekesai Makwavarara, made headlines twice;

  • the purchase of a satellite dish and decoder she had installed at the mayoral mansion at a cost of $100 million, without going to tender
  • the purchase of luxury vehicles for the workforce.


In 2006, a hearing into the suspension of Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya had the potential to expose Sekesai Makwavarara. Among the documents to be presented at the hearing is a copy of an audit report done by the audit manager of the city council on March 23 which exposes alleged misuse of council vehicles and labour by Makwavarara at her Raffingora farm on more than four occasions. Another audit report of February 23 shows that Makwavarara spent $175 million purchasing “consumables and alcohol” meant for her official mansion in Gunhill between June last year and February this year. The report says there was no evidence that Makwavarara was entitled to such expenditure. It shows that of the $175 million, $110 million was spent in less than five days. On January 6, using cheque number 72123, Makwavarara bought groceries worth $53 381 400 and on January 10 she spent $57 188 600 using cheque number 72131. [6]

In February 2019, she was arrested and taken to court on allegations of illegally awarding an $80 million deal to a Augur Investments Pvt Ltd (purportedly based in Ukraine) to upgrade the airport road, without council resolution and without going to tender or following tender procedures . Prosecutor was Sebastian Mutizirwa.

On 2 June 2007, Makwavarara, acting with Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi and Michael Mahachi (already on remand in connection in this case). In September 2007, they caused the CoH to enter into a shareholder’s agreement, and memorandum of understanding on 21 May 2008.

Augur was to fund and provide expertise on the project and CoH was to cede pieces of land to the company in lieu of work done on the road. Title deeds were to be held in trust by Coghlan Welsh and Guest. The project was divided into four phases and was to be completed by 2010. Augur Investments was not registered in Zimbabwe under the Companies Act and Zimbabwe Investments Authority (ZIA). The company was later registered in Zimbabwe in 2010.

The company did not complete the job due to lack of capacity to handle the project of such magnitude, and the project was later taken over by the National Government in 2014. City of Harare was prejudiced of $80 million, the value of land measuring over 10 000 hectares. [7] [8]

This trial has indications of failure to be completed. The trial of former City of Harare commission chairpersons Sekesai Makwavarara, Michael Mahachi and former town clerk Tendai Mahachi, who are facing charges of awarding Augur Investment Company a contract without due process, failed to kick off yesterday after the special prosecutor failed to turn up. The matter is being handled by Zivanai Macharaga of the anti-corruption special prosecution unit in the office of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. [9]

Although another angle is: The matter involving former City of Harare bosses – Tendai Mahachi, Sekesai Makwavarara and Michael Mahachi - was yesterday postponed to July 16 as Mr Zivanai Macharaga, the prosecutor handling it, was not available. Prosecutor Ephraim Zinyandu requested for the postponement when the trio appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya. [10]

However in November, the trial of former Harare City Council (HCC) town clerk Tendayi Mahachi and his two suspected accomplices, Sekesai Makwavarara and Michael Mahachi, on corruption charges opened yesterday with the three denying the charges arising from the US$80 000 Airport Road contract in a land-for-work deal with a Ukrainian company. The three, in their defence, argue that the charges being levelled against them were malicious and that the decision to engage Augur Investments to put in the road in return for 107 572 hectares of council land was collectively made by the then caretaker Harare City Council. [11]

Further Reading













  1. 1.0 1.1 What is between Chombo, Makwavarara?, The Tribune / Kubatana, Published: 2 June 2004, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 Makwavarara rewarded for doing business Zanu PF way, The Standard, Published: 11 March 2005, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  3. Extravagant mayoress has Harare up in arms, Mail and Guardian, Published: 30 June 2006, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  4. Makwavarara’s taste for luxury appalling, The Standard, Published: 20 October 2006, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  5. 5.0 5.1 Zimbabwe: Makwavarara the Most Spoilt Woman in Zim, Financial Gazette, Published: 12 April 2006, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chideya hearing to expose Makwavarara, The Independent, Published: 22 March 2006, Retrieved: 31 December
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ex-Harare mayor Sekesai Makwavarara in court over $80mln 2007 fraud, bailed $1000, New Zimbabwe, Published: 6 February 2019, Retrieved: 31 Dec 2019
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ex-Harare council boss in court over graft, Newsday, Published: 7 February 2019, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  9. 9.0 9.1 ED prosecutor bunks Harare City bosses trial, News Day, Published: 14 June 2019, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ex-city bosses’ trial deferred to July 16, The Herald, Published: 14 June 2019, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  11. 11.0 11.1 Trial of ex-council bosses opens, The Herald, Published: 26 November 2019, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  12. Makwavarara granted bail, Harare Metro, Published: 7 February 2019, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  13. Ex-council bigwigs’ trials to run concurrently, The Herald, Published: 4 March 2019, Retrieved: 31 December 2019
  14. Sekesai Makwavarara, Wikipedia, Retrieved: 31 December 2019