By Staff Reporter
CHIEF’S Council head Fortune Charumbira has been ordered to stop making political statements and issue a public retraction of his pro-ruling party Zanu PF utterances by two High Court rulings in Harare and Masvingo courts.
Charumbira was slapped with two constitutional challenges for his alleged violation of the country’s supreme law by openly pledging his allegiance to Zanu PF and even campaigning on its behalf.
The constitution takes away the right for traditional leaders to belong to any political party or make political statements.
However, Charumbira, during the annual conference of the Council in Bulawayo, violated the constitution by openly affiliating with Zanu PF and saying chiefs must continue supporting the ruling party in the post Robert Mugabe era.
Harare High Court judge Justice Phiri favoured the Election Resource Centre (ERC) with a ruling which demands that the chief publicly retracts his political utterances within a week.
“The first respondent be and is hereby ordered to retract in writing the statements that he made to the effect that traditional leaders should support and vote for Zanu PF by issuing a countermanding statement in a newspaper with national circulation and endeavour to
make the statement available to private and public media houses and the national broadcaster within 7 days of being served with this order,” said the judge in a ruling dated this Monday.
The court further instructed the local government minister to kick start internal processes of dealing with Charumbira’s unconstitutional conduct.
“Third respondent be and is hereby directed to commence disciplinary proceedings for misconduct against the first respondent,” Phiri said adding, “Second and third respondents be and are hereby directed to take steps with a view to putting in place mechanisms, as contemplated under section 287 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.”
The section provides for the establishment of an Integrity and Ethics Committee of chiefs.
Charumbira will meet the litigation costs.
In the second ruling granted by Justice Mawadze this Wednesday at Masvingo High Court in favour of an application by Renewal Democrats Zimbabwe’s president Elton Mangoma, Charumbira and the Chiefs Council were ordered to stop making further political statements, engaging in Zanu PF activities and campaigning for the party.
“The involvement of traditional leaders in partisan politics and declaration of allegiance to Zanu PF is breach of the applicant’s right to a free and fair election…,” read the ruling.