BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
A GOVERNMENT minister last Saturday revealed that the late Chief Chirumhanzu, born Gerald Mudzengi, was a “staunch” Zanu PF supporter, an affirmation that traditional leaders were dabbling in partisan politics.
Midlands Provincial Affairs minister, Larry Mavima told mourners at the burial of Chief Chirumhanzu that the traditional leader was a close ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Today [Saturday] we are gathered here to celebrate the life of a selfless man, who was a close and a trusted ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” Mavima told mourners at Chief Chirumhanzu’s homestead in Chirumanzu, Midlands.
“He was a dedicated Zanu PF member and the party is saddened by his untimely death.”
Chief Chirumhanzu died on Tuesday last week at Parirenyatwa Hospital after a short illness.
Over the years, traditional leaders have been at pains to deny claims that they supported the ruling party, saying they were apolitical.
Zanu PF leaders from the former President Robert Mugabe have over the years pampered chiefs with all kinds of luxuries, including brand new vehicles, ahead of polls.
Opposition parties have always accused chiefs of dabbling in Zanu PF politics in violation of the national Constitution.
Chapter 15 section 281 (2) of the Constitution reads: “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.”
Last year, High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri ordered Chiefs’ Council president Fortune Charumbira to publicly retract his statements stating that traditional leaders were going to support Zanu PF in harmonised elections held on July 30.
Chief Charumbira was dragged to the High Court by Election Resource Centre chairperson, Trust Maanda, who wanted him to publicly withdraw statements urging other chiefs to support Zanu PF in last year’s general elections.
The traditional leader, however, refused to comply with the High Court order.
Prior to the July 30, 2018 polls, traditional leaders were accused of demanding biometric voter registration slips from villagers and politicising food handouts.
Voter educators in Gutu, Zaka, and Chiredzi districts observed that registered voters were being intimidated and forced by Zanu PF activists to surrender their voter registration slips to Zanu PF officials or village heads for party recording and those who did not comply were told that they would not be receive government-sourced food handouts.