PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said there was no way his government could not engage chiefs, as only those ruling had the mandate to do so.
BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters, drawn from different parts of the Midlands province, at Mapfungautsi Primary School at Gokwe town, Mnangagwa said no government programmes could be conducted without the chiefs’ knowledge.
“Soon after our inauguration as the new dispensation, the first thing we did was to meet chiefs and then churches and captains of industry, among others,” he said.
“There is no government programme or meeting that can be held if chiefs do not know who are ruling the country. Only this (advising chiefs of government activities) can be done by those ruling.”
Mnangagwa’s sentiments come at a time opposition parties and other activists have registered their concern over the involvement of chiefs in politics.
In May, High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri ordered the National Chief’s Council president Fortune Charumbira to publicly retract his statements urging chiefs to rally behind Zanu PF in this year’s general elections, after the Elections Resource Centre had dragged him (Charumbira) to court.
Charumbira, however, stood his ground and refused to apologise, arguing the High Court had erred in its ruling.
Soon after the High Court ruling, some chiefs have been attempting to justify their links to Zanu PF, with Chief Ntabeni of Zhombe last week saying traditional leaders were not partisan, but respected the ruling party for its role in the liberation struggle.
The Constitution states that traditional leaders should be impartial and neutral, but over the years, chiefs have been made to dance to the whims of Zanu PF.
Yesterday, Mnangagwa also told his party supporters that government was overwhelmed by investors wanting to invest into the country because of his “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
He said his government was committed to economically empower people through improving the country’s infrastructure such as roads and rail, among others.
Mnangagwa urged his supporters to report corruption saying the cancer (corruption) was derailing economic development.
“We have declared war on corruption and so, where you see corruption taking place, you should report,” he said. He also said this year’s general elections were exciting because there were “more competitors”.