Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira has said traditional leaders have no apologies for supporting Zanu PF because the ruling party fought to bring back what had been taken away from them by colonial rulers.
BY NUNURAI JENA
Chief Charumbira was responding to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s utterances that traditional leaders were part of a Zanu PF grand strategy to win elections by closely monitoring their subjects to ensure they voted for the ruling party’s candidates in the March 27 Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin by-elections.
He said all political parties should approach traditional leaders canvassing for support because chiefs and headmen “have people”, the same as church leaders.
Chief Charumbira said traditional leaders supported Zanu PF because of the “attractiveness of Zanu PF” to their cause.
“No intelligent person cannot seek traditional and church leaders’ support in an election. It’s unfortunate or fortunate that the attractiveness of Zanu PF in politics carries the day,” he said.
“Zanu PF appeals to most of us because of their fight to bring back what we had lost during the colonial rule, where chiefs were stripped of their power and rendered ordinary citizens.”
In an apparent reference to MDC-T, Chief Charumbira said other political parties should be asking themselves why their parties were not attractive to the traditional leaders rather than blaming them for supporting Zanu PF.
He said the issue of “national interests” drives traditional leaders and they follow any party that pursues those interests.
“Let us be practical here my friend, we safeguard national interests and that includes land, sovereignty, natural resources, traditional/cultural resources and above all unhu/ubuntu and we walk with those who agree with that,” said Charumbira.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said his party strongly supported traditional leadership, but noted that the country’s Constitution under Section 281(2), stated that traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics.
Gutu said his party felt sorry for the traditional leaders who were given very small allowances and only remembered by the Zanu PF government during elections.
“An MDC-T government will move swiftly to restore the dignity of our traditional leaders and ensure that they are given decent allowances and that their general welfare is well looked after,” he said.
“Chief Charumbira should know that traditional leaders are not supposed to be political players. If he himself wants to be a politician, we call upon him to immediately resign as a chief and to join us in the political ring,” added Gutu.
On the issue of new regalia for traditional leaders, Chief Charumbira said all Zimbabweans should be involved in coming up with the acceptable chiefs’ regalia.
“It must not be the monopoly of one group, be they chiefs or the Local Government ministry to come up with the acceptable regalia for chiefs, but for all Zimbabweans,” he said.