POWER-MAD traditional leaders have made shock demands to be given diplomatic passports and GUNS - a day after they claimed to "endorse" President Robert Mugabe to seek a new term.
The chiefs, who are paid US$300 allowances monthly and drive goverment-issued cars, stand accused by Mugabe's opponents of dabbling in politics.
More than 250 chiefs are meeting in Bulawayo for their annual conference this week, and most brought their wives who have been sightseeing in the Matopos with the government picking up the bill.
But it is their latest demands which will outrage Zimbabweans.
In addition to demands for new cars and farms, the traditional leaders said they also needed guns for personal security.
“In areas we operate from, there are some thugs who endanger our lives, so government must provide us guns to protect ourselves,” said Chief Chiduku, who heads to Chiefs' Council in Manicaland.
They also plan to push for a share of the 10 percent community ownership schemes being established by foreign mining companies in the country as part of compliance with empowerment laws.
Foreign companies are now required by law to transfer control of at least 51 percent of their operations to locals.
Mining companies have also been compelled to establish community share programmes in the communities where they operate as part of compliance with the legislation, with platinum majors such as Zimplats and Unki donating up to US$10 million the schemes.
The chiefs have since said the must be given places on the boards of the companies to ensure the firms invested in local communities.
Meanwhile, the Bulawayo conference also heard that the traditional leaders were backing President Robert Mugabe for another term in office.
Mugabe was last December nominated by his Zanu PF party as its candidate for elections likely to be held this year.
The chiefs said they wanted the 88-year-old veteran leader to rule the country for life.