Source: Nothing sinister about blanket gift, says chief | The Herald July 23, 2018
Mashonaland East traditional leader Chief Musarurwa yesterday defended his offer of blankets to fellow traditional leaders just before an election of the chiefs council executive last week, saying there was nothing sinister as the gesture was meant to fulfil a cultural rite where one has to present a token before being granted audience by a traditional leader.
In an interview, Chief Musarurwa said the blankets were not meant to be a bribe, but gifts, commonly known as “chiuchiro” or “musumo”, which one has to proffer when seeking audience with a traditional leader.
Last week, Chief Musarurwa was caught in the eye of a storm after fellow traditional leaders said they had been offered blankets to vote for him in the elections to choose the president of the Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council.
It is understood that Chief Musarurwa, who was seeking to contest against Chief Charumbira for the presidency, made a last-minute U-turn, after most traditional leaders rejected his overtures.
Several chiefs were angered by Chief Musarurwa’s overtures, and accused him of dishonourable conduct.
The election was eventually won by sitting president Chief Fortune Charumbira unopposed after Chief Musarurwa withdrew his candidature at the last minute.
But Chief Musarurwa said his conduct was above board.
“We are a cultured institution,” he said. “We are an institution that respects traditional values. If you are visiting a traditional leader, you have to present yourself with a musumo or chiuchiro. That would enable you to get audience.
“Ask any community which follows traditional ethos or any traditionalist whether one just approaches a traditional leader empty-handed when you are seeking an audience with any kind of request.
“It is a practice that is recognised nationally even in our customary law. Once you approach a traditional leader with an issue you want addressed without that chiuchiro or musumo you would have defiled the institution of our tradition.
“The allegation of bribe has no merit whatsoever. Can it objectively be argued that you would bribe a chief with a blanket? Is that not undermining their stature in society?”
Chief Musarurwa said the choice of a blanket was consistent with the cold temperaturesthe country has been experiencing of late.
He denied that he had links with the G40 cabal, saying he was apolitical.
This followed allegations that he was reportedly working with businessman Mr Stanley Kasukuwere, who was trying to influence traditional leaders from his home province of Mashonaland Central.
Some of the traditional leaders who said they were approached by Chief Musarurwa with an offer of the blankets were Chief Chiwara and Chief Mazungunye, both from Masvingo Province.