via Depoliticise chieftainships, govt urged – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 9, 2016
A TRADITIONAL leader has bucked the trend and called for the de-politicisation of the chieftainship, saying chiefs were being used by politicians like puppet strings.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chief Daster Chisunga of Guruve raised the issue on Wednesday while contributing to debate on a motion in Senate on traditional chiefs and their mandate.
“During the colonial era, the chiefs had some of their rights usurped. What is now happening is that as chiefs, we are fighting for what is due to us and was deprived of us because we were told in this august House that if chiefs are empowered and given their roles and functions, they will be free from any influence from anyone because they are so important,” he said.
“When we look at the Constitution, we are informed that chieftainship should be apolitical. Chiefs should not be involved in party politics, but at times you find that chiefs are forced to get into politics because they want to benefit from the convenience and they feel if they do not belong to a particular party, they will be deprived of some rights or privileges.”
Chiefs are often seen as appendages of the ruling Zanu PF.
Chisunga appealed to government to uphold the custodianship of chiefs so they refrain from partaking in political debates in Parliament.
“As chiefs, we are saying if these powers are restored the chiefs will stay in their areas or chiefdoms such that they will not be forced to attend rallies, but let their subjects to go and partake in politics and do whatever it is they want to do. Chiefs will be apolitical. We feel chiefs are being used by politicians and held like a puppet on a string,” he said
“During the politicking towards elections, the chiefs are then given those things that were due to them because they are now being enticed into campaigning for the party. At one time chiefs were given four tonnes of seed maize and agricultural inputs for drought relief because politicians wanted to use them during elections,” he said.
Chief Chisunga said people should read and understand Chapter 15 of the Constitution to understand the roles and functions of traditional leaders and refrain from politicising the institution.
In Senate, chiefs have been accused of siding with Zanu PF whenever the House is divided to vote on an issue where Senators would have disagreed.