More perks for chiefs

The government has awarded traditional leaders a 30 percent salary increase and has given indications that chiefs will receive another raise early next year. Critics have labelled the move an elaborate Zanu (PF) campaign gimmick.

Ignatius Chombo
Ignatius Chombo

According to Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister, Ignatius Chombo, the monthly allowance for traditional leaders has been increased. This comes after the government placed the polling-station-based voters roll into the hands of the traditional leaders, by making them responsible for issuing letters of confirmation to residents in their jurisdiction wishing to register as voters.

"In our endeavour to enhance the stature of traditional leaders, my ministry has consistently engaged the Ministry of Finance on matters pertaining to their welfare. As a result, modest increments in their monthly allowances were awarded across the board,” said Chombo.

The increases still did not meet his expectations, he said, and he promised a periodic review of the allowance. Before the 2008 elections, chiefs were given new vehicles for their personal use, as well as salary increases.

Among the perks for traditional leaders this time around, are new trucks again and home security systems. They will soon be exempt from paying at toll gates throughout the country, and have been placed in charge of the so-called community share ownership trust. This empowers them to become shareholders in multinational companies operating in their areas of jurisdiction. Chombo’s move has been condemned by critics as an elaborate campaign gimmick to ensure that the chiefs’ campaign for Zanu (PF).

The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said the institution of traditional leadership must be depoliticised and should revert to its original cultural role. According to the MDC, chiefs have been corrupted by Zanu (PF) and have been the key cog in that party’s election strategy in the past.

Chombo said his ministry continued to "pay special attention" to traditional leadership institutions, in order to ensure that they were "vibrant”. He has appointed 10 substantive chiefs this year alone, as well as 40 headmen and 600 village heads ahead of do-or-die elections.

Post published in: News

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