Gutu chief refuses to be fired

Phineas Makore, the acting chief in Gutu district who was last year fired over allegations of abusing the presidential free agricultural inputs scheme, says he will not relinquish his post. Local government minister Ignatius Chombo relieved him of his duties a year ago.

Makore, who on several occasions clashed with Zanu (PF) officials over his political affiliation, says he is being punished by Chombo for his alleged links to former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party.

Several people, most of them Zanu (PF) officials including traditional leaders, were accused in the inputs scheme scam, but only Makore was penalized.

“I occupy a traditional post which requires our tradition to be taken away from me and this is clear to everyone,” said Makore. “No-one can just wake up and say I am fired; that is not possible.”

A visit to Makore area in Gutu south constituency revealed that Makore is still in charge and is still conducting his traditional duties.

Beauty Nguruve, a villager in Gutu, told The Zimbabwean that they still considered Phineas Makore as their chief and they had no problems with him.

“He is still our chief but he is not as visible as he was before this issue came up,” said Nguruve. “We report to him all the traditional matters that he is supposed to preside over and nothing has changed.”

Masvingo provincial administrator Felix Chikovo said he would abide by the minister’s decision that Makore was no longer the chief.

“The minister made it clear to us that he has been fired so we are just waiting for the Makore clan to come up with a new chief,” said Chikovo.

“The whole issue is about politics. Chief Makore is being sacrificed because he has refused to dance to the tune of top Zanu (PF) officials,” said a source. “He is viewed as an MDC-T sympathiser, hence all these allegations and the decision to fire him.”

Makore ruffled the feathers of Zanu (PF) officials in 2008 when he blocked the party from establishing a torture base at his homestead during the bloody election campaign.

The chief further soured his relations with Zanu (PF) last year during the run-up to the polls when he openly told them that he would not be engaged in party politics as a traditional leader but would stick to his traditional roles.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party relies heavily on traditional leaders to drum up support during elections.

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