No to gun-toting traditional chiefs

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This week the media was awash with reports that traditional chiefs are now demanding guns as part of their perks to complete their absurd image of royalty.

One chief was quoted in the media as saying: As chiefs, we want guns so that we can protect ourselves because in our communities there are some people who have no respect for the chiefs, especially politicians. We are asking them to respect us, so that we can live together peacefully in the community.

This is not a call for peace, but for war. We do not remember incidents where people have shot or threatened to shoot chiefs. What we do know is that some of these overzealous chiefs have gone too far in their partisan thinking to the extent of provoking politicians from political parties that are not Zanu PF.

The motive for possession of firearms is clear to instill fear in their subjects. Guns do not earn anyone respect; they instill fear and hatred. Chiefs should be people with integrity who lead their subjects by example, but the calibre of some chiefs we see today is far from inspiring respect and confidence.

We see greedy politicians who selfishly think about their own welfare masquerading as chiefs and who know that their behaviour creates discontent among the people whom they are supposed to lead, hence the call for guns.

Some of these chiefs were installed under controversial circumstances and they are well aware of the subsequent dissent among the people they are supposed to represent.

Zimbabweans are aware that people from the rural areas whom these chiefs must protect have myriad problems that include hunger, HIV and Aids, and poverty, problems that genuine chiefs would press government to solve, but some of these charlatans are thinking of arming themselves.

Whom do they fear? The poor people in their areas? Chiefs who reason in such a warped manner should stop lying to themselves that they are traditional leaders; they should just cast off those royal robes and join the army or go into politics full-time.

Manicaland provincial chairperson Chief Chiduku said: In areas we operate from there are some thugs who endanger our lives, so government must provide us with guns to protect ourselves.

So the chiefs are now paranoid? Why would anyone want to harm a chief who listens to his or her subjects, a chief who has his or her people at heart? Isnt it thuggish behaviour by some of these chiefs influenced by political partisanship that elicits a thuggish response from the people?

The problem is that these pretenders have gone too far into politics to the extent that they can no longer extricate themselves from the political web. That is why they see no irony in endorsing President Robert Mugabe for the presidential candidature.

The State-controlled media reported: The annual chiefs conference opened . . . with traditional leaders endorsing President Mugabe as the ZanuPF Presidential candidate for elections scheduled for this year.

There lies the truth, the chiefs think that because they are Zanu PF everyone under their jurisdiction should be Zanu PF and those who cant be persuaded should be forced by some gun-toting fellow masquerading as a chief.

The truth is that nobody wants to see gun-toting chiefs in their area. Government must never allow chiefs to be armed.

We have laws and police that deal with anyone who threatens to harm another person, chiefs included, making it unnecessary to arm these people.

They need to set a good example to their followers and behave with the decorum that is expected of them.