BY VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC) has implored chiefs to refrain from being manipulated by State benefits which have the potential of influencing their conduct before and during the 2023 general elections.
In a Press statement, ERC said State benefits for chiefs would have an influence in the 2023 harmonised elections.
“The ERC calls on traditional leaders not to let State benefits influence their conduct and further calls on stakeholders to curb the partisan conduct of traditional leaders.”
“ERC’s concerns are rooted in the fact that in light of the impending 2023 harmonised elections, traditional leaders, whose power and resources largely depend on the State, have incentives to support incumbent political parties who can guarantee their survival,” the statement read.
ERC said traditional leaders were the vanguard of traditional values and wielded significant influence in their communities, especially in relation to issues of governance, including elections.
Parliament and the Local Government ministry should take steps to legislate the Ethics and Integrity Committee in the Traditional Leaders Act as envisaged by section 287 of the Constitution, ERC said.
“The ERC unreservedly calls on traditional leaders to respect the supremacy of the Constitution, refrain from partisan politics and call on stakeholders to curb the partisan conduct of traditional leaders.”
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“Additionally, the ERC calls for the need for a special code of conduct in elections for traditional leaders as the behaviour of some put into question their neutrality as the country prepares for tripartite elections next year,” ERC said, adding that people trust their traditional leaders as they lead local development, but nowadays they are politically biased.
Partisan abuse of power by traditional leaders has a devastating impact on open participation and the conduct of free and fair elections, according to ERC.
The NGO further said the momentum generated by the creation of the Constitution in 2013 and the 2018 High Court judgment (HC 1718/18), in which the partisan participation of chief Charumbira and traditional leaders in politics was outlawed and deemed unconstitutional, continued to be diminished and undercut through the traditional leaders’ recent conduct.
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