HARARE – President of the Chief’s Council, Fortune Charumbira, risks landing himself in deep trouble for violating the law because of his open support for the ruling Zanu PF party.
Ahead of the July 30, 2018 elections, the University of Zimbabwe-educated traditional leader landed himself in trouble after flaunting his Zanu PF colours in remarks made in full glare of the public.
After the High Court was approached to call Charumbira to order for rallying traditional leaders behind Zanu PF presidential candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Justice Clement Phiri obliged by directing him to withdraw his public statement in a newspaper with a national circulation and endeavour to make a statement available to private and public media houses and the national broadcaster within seven days of being served with the order.
In his judgment, Justice Phiri ruled that Charumbira’s statements made on October 28, 2017 were ultra-vires the Constitution.
During the recently held Zanu PF conference in Esigodini, Charumbira was at it again.
He insisted Zanu PF was the party of chiefs and that anyone who was uncomfortable with that position was free to go to court.
Charumbira said he was surprised that some Zanu PF officials were now afraid to use traditional leaders in their party programmes despite assurances from the chiefs that nothing would happen.
“The problem is that some in the audience are nervous. They were actually saying, ‘chiefs, why don’t you leave politics’ and I said ‘no, chiefs are doing their job.’
“Those in Zanu PF must not be more nervous than the chiefs themselves when we’re working with you,” Charumbira said.
“Some of you are nervous and are actually discouraging the chiefs … We will not stop coming. Those who want to go to court, we’ll meet in court. Zanu PF is the party of chiefs,” he added.
While the country’s Constitution demands that traditional leaders do not dabble in partisan politics, chiefs have either been used for political expediency by the ruling Zanu PF elite or they have been willing tools themselves.
Their partisanship has not gone unnoticed by the legislative assembly which has put the matter on the table for discussion.
An opposition member of Parliament recently said as long as resources meant for the traditional leaders in the National Budget are channelled through the ministry of Local Government and not directly to them, these traditional leaders will never be able to respect their constitutional obligation to be apolitical.
Binga legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda suggested that a secretariat be established for the Chief’s Council to run its affairs as well as manage its resources independent of the minister.
“I believe this is very important, provided that this gives the independence required of the Chiefs’ Council because there is no secretariat in this institution and the risk is that if you make a paper trail, this money is ending at the ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and not directly to them because it subordinates the chiefs who, in terms of our Constitution, are an independent and apolitical body which must be able to serve everyone,” Sibanda said.
“The reason why they (chiefs) have not been able to serve everyone is because they are supposed to be reporting to District Administrators and Provincial Administrators because of the resources.
“So in this particular aspect, my advice will be that; there be a quick issue in terms of allowing this Chiefs’ Council to have an independent secretariat and they run their resources so that they are independent from the minister.
“They must not be controlled by anyone. The only way they are controlled is through resources,” he said.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated $5 million in the National Budget for 2019 to the Council of Chiefs.
The funds were allocated to the ministry of Local Government under July Moyo.