Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe leader, Elton Mangoma, has dragged Fortune Charumbira to court over the chief’s utterances pledging traditional leaders’ support for Zanu PF.
Mangoma filed an application at the Masvingo High Court last Wednesday seeking an order declaring Chief Charumbira’s remarks unconstitutional. Charumbira’s the president of the Chief Council.
The RDZ leader also wants the High Court to grant an order compelling the National Council of Chiefs to initiate processes towards the establishment of the Integrity and Ethics Committee of Chiefs envisioned in Section 287 of the Constitution.
He cited the National Council of Chiefs and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, July Moyo, as second and third respondents to the application.
Chief Charumbira has been making partisan statements on public forums despite constitutional provisions prohibiting traditional leaders from engaging in active politics.
The President of the Chiefs Council declared that traditional leaders would support Zanu PF in the 2018 elections, first on 28 October 2017 in Bulawayo and on 12 January 2018 in Gweru, where he endorsed support to the ruling party’s presidential candidate, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chapter 15, Section 281(2).a.b.c and d of the Constitution prohibit traditional leaders from active politics, furthering interests of political parties or acting in a partisan manner.
In his application filed by Tinomuda Shoko and Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Mangoma argued that Chief Charumbira’s pronouncements violated constitutional provisions that required traditional leaders to be independent and also infringed on his rights as enshrined in Section 56 and Section 67 of the Constitution.
Mangoma argued that traditional leaders were not supposed to be members of any political party and neither be involved in partisan politics and should stop operating as an extension of the ruling party.
“Mangoma submitted that Section 281 of the Constitution states that traditional leaders must not be members of any political party, participate in politics, act in a partisan manner or further the interests of any political party or cause,” noted the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in a statement.
The RDZ leader further argued that Chief Charumbira’s statement infringed on his rights as a political party candidate and made the political playing field uneven.
Charumbira’s careless utterances, Mangoma further argued, violated the rights of all people living in Zimbabwe as they would be vulnerable to manipulation as a result of fear of reprisals of not conforming to the President of the National Council of Chiefs’ position on supporting ZANU PF party.