The suggestion came after last week’s chiefs’ annual conference in Bulawayo where the traditional leaders were falling over each other in declaring their support for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
Some of the chiefs declared Mugabe as a “King who will die in office.” MDC-T deputy organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, said the position of chief should be abolished because the occupants were abusing their offices.
He said there were many ways of administering the customary law than having “Zanu-PF extensions” masquerading as traditional leaders.
“As far as we are concerned, they are not supposed to be aligned to any political power; they should not use the office to support politics because that post is apolitical. It shows a sign of naivety,” said Bhebhe.
“What needs to happen is to just abolish the system as a whole and replace it with other systems of administering the customary law.” He added: “People can be trained to administer the customary law in line with modern trends.”
This is not the first time that MDC-T has called for the abolition of the chief’s position. Deputy Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Sesel Zvidzai, late last year torched off a storm when he said traditional chiefs’ posts should be abolished as Zanu PF was now using them to gain political mileage.
Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda (Macra) director, Effie Ncube, shared the same sentiments. “There is no way we can continue having chiefs as their behaviour is inconsistent with modern norms of democracy based on political diversity,” said Ncube.
“They are not consistent with the modern norms and values of democracy that are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. We should abolish entirely traditional leaders. We don’t need chiefs that are an extension of Zanu-PF.”
Ncube said they must be replaced by trained officials to administer the customary law. Traditional leaders hold largely ceremonial powers but wield immense influence in rural areas where Zanu PF draws most of its support.
Chiefs won’t stop supporting Zanu Pf: Charumbira
President of the Chiefs’ Council, Fortune Charumbira, declared that chiefs would continue supporting Zanu PF and Mugabe because he has always stood beside them.
“Mugabe has supported us always,” said Charumbira. “At 88 years, we say we need him, we need this man, we will walk with him forever and ever.”