Traditional chiefs accorded first class treatment

Traditional chiefs and their spouses who attended the annual chiefs conference which ended in Bulawayo last week were accorded first class treatment in a move viewed by many as a political manoeuvre through Zanu (PF) would ensure that it was guaranteed loyalty, and that of their subjects ahead of the anticipated elections this year.

Godwin Phiri-NANGO Secretary General.
Godwin Phiri-NANGO Secretary General.

For the first time in the history of the annual's chief's indaba, the chiefs were allowed to bring their spouses to the conference. The chiefs and their wives were booked in four star hotels in the city and fed with four course meals while their subjects are wallowing in poverty in the rural areas.

Apart from taking the chiefs wives on a tour in the Matopos National Park, the Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development also bought the chiefs spouses kitchen utensils at a local utensils making factory in the city.

The wives some of them lactating were transported in ZUPCO buses decorated with President Robert Mugabe's campaign posters.

Speaking during the conference Chief's Council president, Fortune Charumbira openly admitted that the chiefs are backing Mugabe during the forthcoming elections.

The Secretary General of the National Association of Non governmental organisation (NANGO), Godwin Phiri said a new culture is emerging where chiefs who are supposed to owe their allegiance and power to the spirit mediums and ancestors were now leading lives that revolved around the dollar orbit defined by those in political power.

Such a trend, he said was problematic in as far as the chiefs may be induced not to challenge government decisions even they violated sanctity.

"A chief has to be independent and impartial .But how can chiefs be independent when they openly declare allegiance to a particular party?

Chiefs are supposed to serve the interests of everyone in the communities which they operate irrespective one's political affiliation," said Phiri.

A Harare based and respected sociologist, Gerald Mahuni concurred that chiefs were supposed to have allegiance only to the spirit mediums of their ancestry.

"During the past chiefs were used to be rewarded their ancestors through different ways such blessings. Today's chiefs have become an appendage of Zanu (PF) who only serve the interest of the party and its leadership.

Yesteryear chiefs did not feed alone while their own people are starving. The chiefs have now joined the Zanu (PF) gravy train," said Mahuni. During the conference, the chiefs demanded a host of luxuries from the government including firearms and diplomatic passports.

Chief Musarurwa from Mashonaland East also suggested during the conference that the government should buy the chiefs suits so that they look presentable in their communities. The chiefs also called for the upward review of their monthly allowances.

Currently the chiefs are earning US$300 per month. "You cannot compare a chief to a civil servant .To put the chief in some form of a rank is a futile exercise. They are supposed to play traditional roles only," said Phiri.

Traditional leaders have been accused of campaigning and forcing their subjects to support Zanu (PF) during previous elections particularly in the rural areas.

In some cases there were also allegations that chiefs who according to traditional custom should represent and assist everyone under their jurisdiction despite political affiliations were listing down names of all their subjects and their parties .Those who sympathised with the then opposition MDC would not benefit under several government assistance programmes such as food aid.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *