Traditional chiefs from Bulilima and Mangwe districts have come under fire for their open support for Zanu PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyos bid to contest the Senate seat in the area.
Chief Masendu of Bililima, speaking on behalf of traditional leaders from the two districts on Friday, said they identified with Zanu PF ideology and were rallying behind Moyo as he was development-oriented.
But political parties and civil society groups yesterday attacked the chiefs for openly supporting a particular party, saying this conflicted with their role in society where they were expected to be non-partisan.
MDC-T deputy national spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo said according to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), Chiefs should be apolitical.
They should not be affiliated to any political party as they could be bought and compromised from carrying out their rightful duties in society.
MDC provincial spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu echoed Khumalos sentiments.
Traditional leaders should stick to their mandate of spearheading traditional issues. Even the GPA is clear on the roles of the chiefs that they should be apolitical.
The chiefs preside over people who support different political parties and all of them should be equally represented. We do not expect that kind of behaviour from the chiefs, said Ndlovu.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo was not amused.
Our expectations from chiefs is that they look at their subjects with one eye and when you have a chief openly supporting one candidate over the other, it means they are dividing the people, Fayayo said.
It erodes the social capital as some people will no longer have respect for the chief.
What if the candidate backed by the chief loses? How will he be regarded in that society? The move compromises their position as cultural leaders.
Political analyst Zenzele Ndebele said it was disturbing that the chiefs had chosen to toe party lines instead of serving the people.
Their role is traditional and not political. They should concentrate on checking how much people were affected by the drought and not involve themselves in politics, he said.