via Traditional Leaders acting in a partisan manner in Tsholotsho. 23 May 2015
Heal Zimbabwe notes with concern the active partisan involvement of Traditional leaders in the Tsholotsho by- elections campaigns ahead of the June 10, plebiscite.
On 20 May 2015, Chief Tategulu from Nyamazana village called for a meeting at his residence under the guise of a Traditional leaders meeting. At the meeting, Chief Tategulu asked villagers to vote resoundingly for Jonathan Moyo in the coming by-elections. He urged them not to repeat the “mistake” of voting for any candidate other than Jonathan Moyo as voting for him would bring food and development to their area.
On the same day, Chief Tategulu also addressed villagers in Bemba village in Ward 1 and 2 and Sihazane village in Ward 1 and 3. He urged people that they should go in their numbers and vote for Jonathan Moyo. This is in clear violation of Section 281 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which states that, “Traditional leaders must act in accordance with the constitution.” The same section states that,” they must not be members of any political party, participate in partisan politics or further the interests of any political party”. The action by Chief Tategulu is a direct violation of the Constitution and peoples’ political and civil liberties as no one should be compelled to vote for anyone.
The incident is not the first time Chiefs in the area have acted in a partisan manner. On the 7th of April 2015, Chief Matupula from Ward 6 Tsholotsho North summoned Headmen Mahlaba, Mcetshwa and Mlevu to his homestead. At the meeting, he threatened them with unspecified action if the villagers under their jurisdiction fail to vote resoundingly for Professor Jonathan Moyo, who is the ZANU PF candidate for the Tsholotsho North by-election.
Heal Zimbabwe therefore demands that :
· The Government oversees that Traditional leaders discharge their duties in a non-partisan manner that does not infringe citizens’ civil and political liberties.
· The newly established Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) launch an investigation on the conduct of Chief Tategulu in Tsholotsho North as a deterrent to would be law breakers.
· Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) investigate all electoral irregularities being reported in Tsholotsho and other constituencies where by elections are scheduled.