CHIEFS council president Fortune Charumbira has drawn the ire of the MDC after declaring that traditional chiefs and Zanu PF are “inseparable.”
Charumbira told the Zanu PF national conference in Gweru at the weekend that traditional leaders will actively campaign for the party in the forthcoming elections.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) proscribes political involvement by traditional leaders and demands that they not “engage in partisan political activities at national level as well as in their communities.”
Yet, the chiefs’ council has never veiled its inclinations towards Zanu PF, and at times expressed outright contempt for the MDC and other political parties.
MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora condemned Charumbira’s statements calling him a “sycophant.”
“Chief Charumbira is simply being sycophantic, and is trying to ingratiate himself with Zanu PF,” said Mwonzora. “It’s a cheap publicity-seeking stunt. He is a victim of Zanu PF paternalism. Chiefs are supposed to be impartial and apolitical; there is no need to append them to a political party.”
He added: “The problem with making chiefs political is that an individual political subject will not look at a chief as such, but will look at a chief as a political opponent, either as Zanu PF, a representative of Mugabe or of a system they may or may not like, so it is unfair, it is not right.”
Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the MDC wing of Welshman Ncube also dismissed Charumbira as a desperate Zanu PF surrogate whose views are not representative of all traditional leaders in the country.
“The comments are emanating from a Zanu PF functionary, they are not comments that will emanate from all the other chiefs whom we know are nonpolitical, whom we know want to subject Zimbabwe to fairness and transparency, honesty and democratic system,” Dube said.
“What chief Charumbira has said is obvious of a man that could not succeed in anything in life except in those spaces where he sings for his supper and unfortunately his supper comes from Zanu PF. So he must cock-crow for his supper at any given opportunity.
“It is a sad reality of how chiefs have been abused by those that seek to speak on their behalf, but we know certainly that there are many more chiefs that do not think in the same way as Charumbira.”
Zanu PF has managed over the years to buy the loyalty of some village heads and chiefs with expensive handouts including luxury cars, monthly allowances and free maize seed.