By Robert Tapfumaneyi
OUTSPOKEN former MDC legislator Eddie Cross has hit out at his erstwhile colleagues in the main opposition for allegedly disrespecting traditional leaders and treating them as people with no role to play in a modern Zimbabwean society.
He was speaking at the inaugural Zimbabwe Devolution Conference held recently in Harare.
The ex-lawmaker accused his colleagues of treating traditional chiefs as opponents and yet they were genuine custodians of the country’s traditional heritage.
“They are not elected but they are part of our history, they restore dignity,” said Cross.
The former Bulawayo legislator said he was shocked with how his party sought to push traditional leaders to the peripheries of any leadership roles during the 2009-2013 constitution making process which was spearheaded by the country’s parliament under the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC).
“In our local government structures and in devolving power, we have to give our chiefs a central role,” Cross said.
“And I did not like what happened in COPAC because in COPAC, MDC treated the chiefs as old fashioned, out of date and I don’t think Zanu PF did a good job protecting the rights of the chiefs.
“I think they did a lousy job and I think Chief Charumbira (Chiefs Council president) will agree with me.
“But we as a nation, if we are to be true to what we are, we have to make a place for the chiefs in the way in which we run our country.
“They are not elected but they are part of our history.
“The traditional leaders, the mambos are the traditional leaders of our people and we need to give them a place in our society which reflects their role in our culture.”
Because of their perceived alignment with the ruling party Zanu PF, the opposition MDC has always been questioning their relevance in modern-day society anchored on democratic values.
The opposition has also accused traditional leaders of meddling in national politics in support of the Zanu PF.