Align law to bar chiefs from partisan politics

President of the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe Chief Fortune Charumbira addresses Matabeleland South Province traditional leaders at a seminar held at a bBulawayo hotel yesterday.Listening (left) is his deputy Chief Mtshana Khumalo.

LOCAL human rights watchdog, Heal Zimbabwe Trust has called for the alignment of the Traditional Leaders Act to the Constitution after Chiefs’ Council president, Fortune Charumbira declared allegiance to Zanu PF when traditional leaders met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Gweru on Saturday

BY SILAS NKALA

In his address, Chief Charumbira said: “We work with government and the ruling Zanu PF. I know people say this should not be said, but that is the truth. We are Zanu PF.”

The watchdog said the Constitution clearly stipulates in Chapter 15 section 281(2) that: “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.”

Heal Zimbabwe said Charumbira’s utterances were unconstitutional and compromised traditional leaders’ roles.

“Heal Zimbabwe notes that such utterances are not only unconstitutional, but compromise the independent role played by traditional leaders in the discharge of their constitutional duties such as mediating and resolving disputes within their communities,” the body said.

The organisation said such sentiments also violate section 282 of the Constitution, which forbids traditional leaders from actively participating in partisan politics or furthering the interests of any political party.

“Added to this, section 7 of the Traditional Leaders Act stipulates that a chief can be suspended by the responsible ministry for misconduct, which involves participating in partisan politics or furthering the interests of any political party,” Heal Zimbabwe said.

The organisation also called for the setting-up of the integrity and ethics committee as espoused in section 287 of the Constitution.

“An Act of Parliament must be put in place, which provides for the establishment, membership and procedures of an integrity and ethics committee of chiefs to exercise the following functions: To develop and enforce integrity and ethical conduct on the part of traditional leaders, to resolve disputes between traditional leaders and to deal with complaints against traditional leaders,” Heal Zimbabwe said.

The rights watchdog said traditional leaders must discharge their duties independently, to be effective mediators and adjudicators in their communities, who can spearhead positive traditional forms of conflict resolution and intervention on behalf of victims of injustice.

“In light of this, meddling in politics by traditional leaders greatly compromises this important role that helps build peaceful communities and social cohesion,” the rights watchdog said.

Heal Zimbabwe Trust said this was not the first time Charumbira had publicly declared allegiance to Zanu PF.
“In October 2017, in Bulawayo, he openly declared his allegiance to the then President, Robert Mugabe, and Zanu PF in clear contradiction of the Constitution,” the organisation said.

“He even went further and promised that traditional leaders were going to campaign for Zanu PF ahead of the 2018 elections.”
The watchdog urged traditional leaders to respect the Constitution and reassure citizens that they are non-partisan and shall perform their duties and responsibilities in a professional and non-partisan manner.

The Election Resource Centre has since sued Charumbira over his October remarks.

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7 Comments

  1. Mgobhozi Wezintabeni

    One would forgiven to conclude that Charumbira is semi illiterate.He can’t draw the boundary between party and government.Apart from this, he failed to draw a lesson from the recent events that saw the eviction of Mugabe that he worshipped at personal level being forced to leave state house in an unceremonial fashion and those who thought the world was under control as long they worshipped Mugabe and his wife fleeing to the safety of foreign lands.Respect for the country’s Charter and institutions is more paramount than hero worshipping of individuals and party.

  2. This is very disturbing and the opposition must make serious noise about this issue.

  3. serial flip flopper this chief or is it .hief

    1. Comment…the utterances by this chief are a cause of serious concern, in his bid to impress the ruling party he is naivetily playing into the hands of the opposition. He is proving to be a liability and security risk to the nation and ruling party. It is embarrassing for a whole chief to been seen to bootlicking mere mortals to such and extend of loosing his dignity. Mambo havafanire kureruka kudaro.Zvinosvodesa.

  4. Charumbira is singing for his super. At home people want to dethrone him as he got the chieftainship fraudulently.

  5. Just the name Charumbira stinks!!

  6. He is compromising the President and his calls for free and fair elections by his uncalled for boot licking. Sometimes keeping quiet when you have nothing to say is golden nhai vamambo, ito dzidzai. Take heed to what our new President has said …no hero worshipping…please don’t compromise him, i repeat.

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