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Opposition MPs harangue Minister over partisan traditional chiefs

07/02/2018 00:00:00
by Staff reporter
Denied links ... Local govt minister, July Moyo

OPPOSITION MPs Wednesday confronted Local Government Minister July Moyo demanding answers over his failure to reprimand traditional chiefs who have openly declared support for Zanu PF in the coming elections.

Moyo, in attempts to duck questions thrown at him by the MPs, tried to distance his ministry from any affairs to do with the partisan traditional leaders.

Mutasa South MP Trevor Saruwaka asked during parliament’s question time what the Zanu PF Minister had in store for Chiefs Council President Fortune Charumbira and his colleagues who have vowed Zanu PF support ahead of elections due this year.

The MDC-T MP insisted the chiefs were in violation of Section 281 of the Constitution which forbids their taking part in partisan politics.

In his response, Moyo denied anything to do with the local leaders.

“Mr Speaker Sir, as the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, I am not the supervisor or controller of the constitutional provisions and it is not the Ministry’s policy to look into the issue of chiefs pronouncing themselves about their political persuasions,” he said.

Moyo insisted the appointment and disciplinary procedures for chiefs was now the responsibility of the provincial assembly of chiefs as well as the national assembly of chiefs. 

He added: “This is provided for in the Constitution.  Nowhere does the Constitution allow me to discipline any chief in this country at present.”

Moyo was immediately challenged by Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai who asked him to account for his role in the “rounding up” and gathering of chiefs at a Zanu PF venue in Gweru in January where they were given brand new vehicles by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The outspoken MDC-T legislator threatened opposition demonstrations against Mnangagwa despite the new leader’s repeated pledges to deliver free and fair elections.

Moyo, in his response, remained evasive, denying the chiefs congregated at a Zanu PF home.

“In the Midlands where the chiefs gathered to meet the President, that is not a Zanu PF building,” he said, adding, “It belongs to the Midlands Development Association and includes everyone who is in the Midlands. That is how it was constructed.

“As to who can use it, it is neither here nor there. If the Salvation Army wants to use it, they can and anyone is free to use it inasmuch as Zanu PF used it.


“If a person does sloganeers – whoever is possessed with spirits…If we are to say that the Minister should rein them in, the Minister will have problems.

“If there are those that are not happy about what happened to chiefs, chiefs have their National Council of Chiefs, they have Provincial Assemblies of Chiefs, and so, you should take your complaints to those fora so that these issues can be attended to.”

The opposition has been up in arms with the Zanu PF led administration for allegedly converting traditional leaders into party commissars while enticing them with cars, electrified homes which also have running water.

In attempts to reciprocate, traditional leaders have been observed in previous elections driving dozens of their subjects to polling centres with strict instructions to vote for Zanu PF.

The influential local leaders have also been accused of involvement in partisan food aid distribution among their people.

Zanu PF’s continued dominance in rural areas has been linked to chiefs’ controversial operations in the countryside. .


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