Treat us like MPs: Chief

via Treat us like MPs: Chief | The Zimbabwean by Tony Saxon 18.09.13

The government should give traditional chiefs guns, vehicles and allowances similar to those allocated to Cabinet ministers and parliamentarians, says Chief Katerere.

“Our cars are battered and they need replacement,” he told a meeting at Tsatse Secondary School in Nyanga last week.

Chief Katerere also openly aligned himself to Zanu (PF).

“We belong to President Mugabe and Zanu (PF) is our party,” he said. “I want to thank you all the people who voted for him and the party in the past elections. I want to warn those voted for MDC-T have no place in my area.”

Under the new Constitution, chiefs and other traditional leaders are specifically forbidden from aligning themselves with political parties as they serve diverse communities. The advocacy group, the Zimbabwe Youths for Democracy, has condemned Chief Katerere’s statements.

A ZYD official said traditional leaders should steer clear of party politics. However, Katerere maintained that his colleagues were aligned to Mugabe and Zanu (PF). He said as custodians of culture and national values, chiefs deserved better treatment from the government.

In an interview after the meeting, James Manyau, the advocacy and communications cfficer for ZYD said traditional leaders must be apolitical.

“Chiefs and headmen must unite and refuse to be politicised or marshaled into politics as this compromise their leadership. Politicians must also desist from politicising traditional leaders,” said Manyau.

Manyau criticised the Chiefs’ Council for promoting the view among traditional leaders that they should be aligned to Zanu (PF). “As a group we blame Fortune Charumbira, the president of the Chiefs Council, for publicly declaring his loyalty to Zanu (PF),” he said.

“Though traditional leaders, like any other citizen, have a right to support a political party of their choice, opening themselves up for abuse by political parties like Zanu (PF) for material gain is not in the best interest of their communities,” Manyau said.

He called for a change of conduct among traditional leaders.