THE Chiefs’ Council has urged civic society organisations to report traditional leaders who force their subjects to vote for particular political parties and individuals.
A report by the Fortune Chasi led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice made the disclosure in response to an Elections Resource Centre (ERC) petition to Parliament on electoral reforms.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Chasi recently presented the report in the National Assembly, where he said the petitioners had pointed out that in order for elections to be adjudged free and fair, people must be given a chance to choose who they wanted to lead them freely.
The justice committee had engaged traditional leaders on the issue.
“The Chief’s Council in turn expressed concern over the failure by civic society organisations to report any rogue chiefs, who coerced their subjects to vote for certain individuals and political parties,” Chasi said while presenting the committee report.
“Chiefs felt that instead of running to the public, the concerned stakeholders should address any such queries with them as they have the mechanisms to deal with bad apples.
“Hence, [the] petitioners felt that traditional leaders in some areas that place undue influence on people in their jurisdiction disturbed the credibility of elections. They called for the urgent redress of this issue to ensure a credible poll.”
During debate in the National Assembly on the ERC petition, MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese said some members of the Chiefs’ Council were the culprits.
“Our Constitution in section 15 is very, very clear that traditional leaders must not belong to any political parties and must be non-partisan. In other words, when they are leaders in their jurisdiction, they are leaders of people from different political parties like Zanu PF, the MDC-T and other political players.
“The petitioners felt very strongly that the Chiefs’ Council has not only failed to reprimand traditional leaders, who have fallen out of line. The leaders themselves of the Chiefs’ Council are actually some of the culprits,” he said.
Gonese said some members of the Chiefs’ Council were attending political gatherings and even making political pronouncements, which was at variance with their role as enunciated in the Constitution that they should be non-partisan.