TRADITIONAL leaders in the Midlands province’s Lower Gweru area have literally thumbed their noses at the country’ supreme law, the Constitution, by openly declaring their allegiance to Zanu PF ahead of the August 23 polls.
Speaking at a Zanu PF rally held at Maboleni business centre, Chief Bunina, born Jabulani Chisadza, paraded other traditional leaders before asking them to pledge their support to the ruling party.
“I want to ask my colleagues as traditional leaders and in front of my guest of honour (Zanu PF politburo member Mackenzie Ncube) if you are going to be part of building the country since it is the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa)’s motto that the country is built by its own people,” Chisadza said.
After the traditional leaders affirmed their support for the President and Zanu PF, he added: “Guest of honour (Ncube), you have heard for yourself, the chiefs are saying we are together and we will play our part.”
The country’s chiefs and headmen have perennially been accused of force-marching their subjects to vote for Zanu PF, despite the Constitution prohibiting them from being members of any political party or participating in partisan politics.
The country’s Constitution says traditional leaders “must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics”.
According to Election Resource Centre’s Election Credibility Indicator, traditional leaders continue to dabble in politics.
“The electoral environment has seen a worsening of the conduct of traditional leaders, chiefs and headmen actively mobilising citizens to vote on election day in rural areas, potentially impacting the secrecy and integrity of the vote,” the report read.
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Chiefs have been pampered by the Zanu PF-led administration with gifts such as cars, allowances and house electrification deals, among other freebies in return for their support.
The Constitution recognises and formalises the authority and legitimacy of the institutions, explicitly listing a variety of powers and responsibilities of traditional leaders; and being partisan is not one of them.