Chiefs in political storm

TRADITIONAL chiefs have landed themselves in soup with opposition parties and civil society groups, after they recently publicly pledged to whip their subjects to rally behind President Robert Mugabe in next year’s general elections.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira assured Mugabe of their unwavering support at the just-ended traditional leaders’ conference in Bulawayo, after the Zanu PF leader promised to pamper them with all kinds of luxuries including brand new twin cab trucks, ahead of the polls he faces stiff challenge from a coalesced opposition.

Charumbira’s remarks triggered heated debate yesterday, with opposition parties accusing the chiefs of dabbling in Zanu PF politics in violation of the national Constitution.

“As the MDC, we respect the chiefs and we will accord them the respect they deserve and our government will not, like Zanu PF abuse them to get political support and endorsements. It is clear that after being bought with cars in what was clear vote buying, they were left with no choice but to dabble in politics violating the constitution of the country,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Chapter 15 section 281 (2) of the Constitution read: “Traditional leaders must not–(a) be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics; (b) act in a partisan manner; (c) further the interests of any political party or cause; or (d) violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.”

But Zanu PF politburo member and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo tried to defend the chiefs, saying they were exercising their democratic right, but was ruled offside by European Union ambassador Philippe Van Damme.

“Politically, traditional chiefs can, as they always have, support Zanu PF without being members of the Party in the technical sense,” Moyo twitted before Van Damme called him out saying “That’s not what your #Constitution says. In their public function, & yesterday’s was public function, they should be party-politically neutral.”

Moyo then told Van Damme off, saying the diplomat should be more worried about the Spanish problem where Catalonia voted for independence and leave Zimbabwe alone.

“I will not defer the interpretation of Zimbabwe’s Constitution to an @EU_Commission ambassador. Deal with Spain’s constitution on Catalonia,” he hit back!

6 Comments

  1. it is the seoson

  2. Pathetically, in our dilapidated African political culture, a constitution booklet is just another book, defied and altered at will. The constitution is only implemented to the common man lest the mighty can buy their way out. In the same breath, the Executive has the guts to overstep the other arms of govt unquestionably to retain their prowess. This alone explains Mugabe’s defiance to economic prioritization to spend millions in campaign vehicles amidst growing public concern.

  3. Why have so-called traditional chiefs in the modern electronic age? Silly. How can these leeches you cal chiefs be neutral when they are paid by Mugabe? He buys them cars and indulges these leeches. The office of chief is archaic. States-within-a-state is what it is. The Zimbabwe Constitution was drafted by morons.

  4. Section 287 of the Constitution provides that An Act of Parliament must provide for the establishment of an Integrity and Ethics Committee of Chiefs to deal with complaints against traditional leaders. So, in terms of the Constitution, there should be a committee in place precisely to deal with these kinds of complaints against Charumbira. Where is it? Just one of many constitutional provisions that have not been implemented by the ZANU PF Government.

  5. Let the opposition give chiefs cars so that they will buy their support, bt if they fail,they should shut up

  6. Please sue them Sir Obert Gutu, thats criminal.

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