Chiefs demand guns

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Chiefs yesterday demanded to be allocated guns in addition to their service vehicles and $300 monthly allowances claiming the benefits would befit their royal status.

Addressing fellow traditional leaders at the national Chiefs Council annual conference in Bulawayo, Manicaland provincial chairperson Chief Chiduku appealed to government to allocate them firearms for personal security.

In areas we operate from there are some thugs who endanger our lives, so government must provide us guns to protect ourselves, he said.

The traditional leaders who were allocated service vehicles and get a $300 monthly allowance also demanded to be given diplomatic passports, new motor vehicles, farms and a share of the proceeds from the 10% community share ownership scheme garnished from foreign-owned mining companies.

The issue of diplomatic passports for chiefs is long overdue. We need it to be finalised, said Chief Chiduku, adding traditional leaders deserved to enjoy such privileges as important members of society.

He also appealed for chiefs to be spared from paying tollgate fees when driving along the countrys main roads.

We have a problem in terms of paying tollgate fees. Our allowances are still stagnant.

Chiefs are still being stopped at tollgates and we say something must be done, he said.

Chief Malaba, who chairs the Matabeleland South provincial Chiefs Council, said the cars they received under the traditional leaders vehicle scheme were now battered and worn out and wanted them replaced.

He said some chiefs, especially those who were installed recently, were yet to get their cars.

The payment of our allowances is erratic and comes sometimes after two months. This affects us seriously, lamented Malaba.

Chiefs from neighbouring Matabeleland North said it was hard for them to acquire farms and proper accommodation.

They said out of 38 chiefs in the province, only four had been allocated farms yet the chiefs were the custodians of all rural land.

The traditional leaders, who have often been accused of dabbling in Zanu PF party politics, asked the government to guarantee them security during election campaigns.

Chief Musarurwa of Mashonaland East, who made the plea citing the beating-up of chiefs and burning of their homesteads, openly declared traditional leaders from his area supported President Robert Mugabes continued stay in office.

Chiefs in Mashonaland East support President Mugabe as a leader of the country, not Zanu PF. We regard him as a chief and we know chiefs are not removed when still alive.

We say as he is a chief, he must stay in office until he passes away, he said.

Chief Musarurwa said removing leaders from office through the ballot box was an alien concept imported into this country by colonialists.

The conference which is being held in Bulawayo but hosted by Mashonaland East Province will be officially opened by Mugabe today.

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