Vice-President John Nkomo on Friday struck the right note when he condemned the outrageous demands by Zimbabwe’s luxury-seeking traditional leaders.
Closing the chiefs’ annual council meeting held in Bulawayo, an unimpressed Nkomo lashed out at chiefs who are increasingly behaving like a trade union movement.
He reminded chiefs not to prioritise self-enrichment at the expense of national development and warned corruption was fast creeping into their ranks.
Nkomo’s comments are timely and serve to show there are some in government who are tired of the kleptocracy that has taken root in Zimbabwe.
Instead of focusing on traditional matters, such as issues that involve their work as custodians of cultural values and traditions, chiefs turned their Bulawayo indaba into a forum to agitate for self-enrichment last week.
The chiefs thought it prudent to demand a review of their allowances “to befit their royal status”. They also demanded new all-terrain vehicles, farms and a share of the Constituency Development Fund and, alarmingly, guns to defend themselves.
The chiefs also reasoned that a share of proceeds from the 10% community ownership scheme raised from companies operating in areas under their jurisdiction would make their lives easier.
No doubt the demands by the chiefs betrayed their desire to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor communal people they are supposed to serve.
The chiefs, who openly support Zanu PF, see themselves as a privileged class that has to be pampered by government.
Already they boast of vehicles provided by the state, in addition to the US$300 monthly allowance they receive. Some have paved roads and electricity connected to their homes without them paying a cent.
By demanding more from government, the traditional leaders showed they are determined to milk the state as much as they can without regard to the state of the fiscus or to the predicament of the subjects they serve who survive on food handouts.
It is in light of this that many will find Nkomo’s condemnation of the chiefs refreshing. It’s time more top-ranking officials in government told the chiefs enough is enough.
Quote of the week
“You can have the most perfect constitution on earth but if it’s not adhered to or carried out it’s just a piece of paper,” said US ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray disputing that a constitution is the panacea to free, fair and credible elections.