BY BLESSED MHLANGA/MOSES MATENGA
CHIEFS’ Council president Fortune Charumbira yesterday openly defied the national Constitution which forbids traditional leaders from dabbling in partisan party politics after he publicly declared that chiefs were the owners of the ruling Zanu PF party.
Addressing delegates at the party’s annual conference in Bindura, Charumbira, who was once taken to court for urging chiefs to support Zanu PF, said “we come as owners of the party”.
“On behalf of all chiefs and headmen, I want to say, we are together with Zanu PF,” Charmubira said.
“We got invited through a letter and that letter showed who we are. We were invited as delegates, but if you go to the start, we are the owners of Zanu PF.”
Chapter 15.2 of the Constitution forbids traditional leaders from being members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics, act in a partisan manner, further the interests of any political party or cause or violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.
“We come as owners of the party, the reason for the existence of Zanu PF is all about traditional leadership, and it is about injustice,” Charumbira said.
“This party is ours, which is the truth. War veterans, you fought the war, you are shareholders, but we are the owners, and others are members, which is the truth.”
Traditional leaders have often been accused of forcing their subjects to support Zanu PF during elections to the extent of threatening to take away their land for supporting the opposition, or denying them government-sourced food aid.
A fortnight ago, Zanu PF supporters in Charumbira’s village in Masvingo attacked MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s convoy during the opposition leader’s tour of the province.
Charumbira yesterday pleaded with delegates at the Zanu PF conference to uphold peace, saying the ongoing internecine fights in the ruling party were a sad reminder of the late former President Robert Mugabe’s era of violence and intolerance.
He played down the alleged power struggle between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga, saying the alleged fallout was a creation of ambitious party members angling to land key positions leveraging on their proximity to the two leaders.
“The devil is working through you; there is a story that is being cooked about the fight between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, it is very clear that they want to divide you,” Charumbira said.
“As I stand here, I think I am very senior in Zanu PF. I worked with the President for a long time from when he was still a minister and Chiwenga was still a soldier. Nobody can tell me lies that Chiwenga and Mnangagwa don’t see eye to eye, that’s a lie. I know these people are very close.”
He warned Zanu PF delegates to stop the divisive power fights which threaten to raze the ruling party following recent violent internal elections.
“This party is ours, we will correct it when it is going astray. You are now having a lot of noise in the party. It hurts us when you fight. This is our party.
“We are hurt when you beat each other. The spirit of the new dispensation needs to be protected. You want to take us back to 15 years ago by the way you conduct yourself in party affairs.
“The elections are the ones that are problematic, it is bad, and it is really bad; this fighting is bad. I think the key thing is that you should hold fair elections,” Charumbira said.
Chiwenga also read the riot act on party members he accused of showing unbridled hunger for power, calling on them to toe the line.
“The unbridled hunger for power has no place in Zanu PF. This must stop forthwith,” Chiwenga said.
“Those who think that Zanu PF will fall by the way side and lose power must wake up and realise that it will not happen, otherwise they will be left by the roadside.”
The statements by Charumbira and Chiwenga came weeks after Mnangagwa admitted to the chaos in the ruling party, while addressing a politburo meeting. He repeated the same remarks at the conference where he said indiscipline had permeated all party structures.
The fights were laid bare recently across the country during the Zanu PF restructuring exercise that saw bloody clashes between rival factions. Mnangagwa was forced to postpone the provincial restructuring programme following the clashes.