Zanu PF blasts chiefs


Zanu PF this week clashed with their strategic ally traditional chiefs with Vice-President John Nkomo shooting down their demands to be part of community share ownership schemes with miners and Mashonaland East governor Aeneas Chigwedere accusing them of being greedy.

Officially closing the Chiefs Council annual conference in Bulawayo yesterday, Nkomo advised chiefs to concentrate on their core roles of leading their communities instead of spreading their tentacles to business.

On the issue of the community shareholder scheme, some chiefs will abandon their subjects and resort to attending to business. We do not want that. You must not abandon the people. People look up to you for leadership and control, said Nkomo, who is also the vice-president of Zanu PF.

On Wednesday, the chiefs made a list of demands to government including to be provided with guns, diplomatic passports, farms, new cars and part of the proceeds from the governments community share ownership scheme under the indigenisation programme as part of their benefits, saying this was in tandem with their royal status.

Nkomo further attacked the chiefs over their reluctance to preside over their territories, saying they were constantly referring issues to other bodies like Parliament, provincial administrators and governors instead of dealing with the issues themselves.

On Thursday, Chigwedere, who is a Zanu PF central committee member also regarded as an authority in traditional matters, was the first to take a shot at the traditional leaders.

He accused them of over-demanding in claiming better conditions of service at the expense of community welfare, saying this had the effect of reducing the Chiefs Council to a trade union.

Chigwedere said chiefs should work hard to look after their people before seeking personal comfort and making noise about allowances as this diminished their status.

The focus of the chief was the happiness and prosperity of his people. What is our focus today as chiefs? Is it the welfare of the people or is it our personal welfare or family welfare?

Then do we expect our people to respect us? he said. His remarks immediately drew the ire of the president of the Chiefs Council Chief Fortune Charumbira, who said their image in society was important.

I think it is unfair for anyone to imply that if we talk of allowances, we are reducing ourselves to trade unions. If the traditional leadership has no power, it is despised, it is without a voice, they have no land, and they walk on foot. Is that fitting of their power and influence? You cannot expect a Head of State to use a bicycle. he said.

Comment on this story: