Chief Pedzisai Gondo Murambinda (86) believes the inclusive government has brought about peace in the country, but more still needs to be done to ensure that traditional leaders are respected and can fully discharge their duties.
NewsDay senior reporter Mernat Mafirakurewa (MM) caught up with Chief Murambinda (PM) at his rural homestead at Murambinda Growth Point and spoke about the role of chiefs, the food situation in his area and the ongoing constitution-making exercise amongst other issues.
MM: What is the role of chiefs in the country?
PM: Basically, it is to provide leadership to your subjects, arbitrate on issues when differences arise within the village and advocate for the development of one’s area.
MM: Do you think chiefs should support any political party?
PM: We have been told by constitution officials that we should not support any political party. They said if any of us was doing that, they should stop it as it was wrong to do that.
MM: What do you want included in the new constitution?
PM: Obviously we told the Copac people that homosexuality should be banned. People said they did not want the position of the prime minister. Also of importance is the fact that chiefs should never be elected. All public officials from councillor up to the president must be elected.
MM: What do you think should be done to enhance the role played by chiefs?
PM: I believe more chiefs should be accommodated in Parliament as they are the ones always with the people. They know the real needs and challenges faced by their people. They interact with them on almost a daily basis.
We also need proper courts to operate from like in other countries such as Botswana, if we are to gain respect within our communities.
MM: At the moment where are you holding your court cases?
PM: Court cases are being conducted under a tree. This makes people undermine the authority of the chief. There is also need for chiefs to have protection as they sometimes handle sensitive and emotionally-charged meetings.
MM: Are you happy with the allowances you are getting from government at the moment?
PM: While we understand that the money we are using is not ours, we hope government can improve our allowances. It should be in a position to do so since we are now selling our diamonds.
MM: What are your views with regard to the inclusive government?
PM: The inclusive government has brought about peace in the country but obviously this is not a permanent arrangement. Now people are free to do what they want. If it was in 2008 you would not have been allowed to come here, what for? But now the message is of peace. People are free to do what they want.
MM: How is the food situation in the district?
PM: There is hardly enough rains each season. Even if we were to receive adequate rainfall, there is not enough land to plant our crops. Buhera is one of the districts that has run out of land and it is something that needs urgent attention. Donors have kept most families alive through their support.
MM: Did you not benefit during the land reform exercise?
PM: We wrote several letters with names of intended beneficiaries but that is as far as it got. It was difficult to be allocated land. Only those that had relatives at the top got pieces of land.
MM: Would you be willing to be moved from this area?
PM: For as long as I am resettled with my people it should not be a problem. We want to stay at the same place to ensure that we do not lose our values and customs as a people. Importantly though, government should make sure that the young people get land.
MM: What are your words of advice to the nation?
PM: Youths should guard their lives jealously. HIV and Aids is real. People should be faithful to their partners.