Chiefs accuse politicians of usurping their powers

via Chiefs accuse politicians of usurping their powers | The Zimbabwean 13 August 2014 by Marcus Tawona

Traditional leaders in Manicaland province have lambasted government and politicians for usurping their powers and confining them to managing affairs in the communal lands only.

The traditional leaders expressed their grave concern over massive destruction of forests and the environment in the newly resettled farming areas, where the farmers are wantonly cutting and burning down forests without government intervention.

Speaking at a Provincial Fire Indaba convened by Environmental Management Agency (EMA) last week to discuss the issue of veld fires, the chairman of the Chiefs Council in Manicaland, Chief Senator Chiduku, said issues of environmental management could not succeed without the involvement of traditional leaders because they were the custodians of land and heritage.

He said chiefs were being looked down upon by people, especially those in the newly resettled farms.

“The government says we are the custodians of land and heritage when in actual fact our mandate is limited to communal areas. What does that mean? People who were allocated land under the land reform programme have become more powerful than us. If you try to fine them for environment-related offences they will take you to the magistrates who will tell us (chiefs) that the newly resettled areas are not within your jurisdiction,” said Chiduku, in apparent reference to Zanu (PF) politicians and war veterans who grabbed former commercial farms.

He lambasted government for taking a back seat at a time when forests were being depleted at alarming levels by ‘new farmers’.

“I don’t know probably they want to give us the mandate when the whole country has been turned into a desert by resettled farmers. We will not fight you but we will fold our hands lest we shall appear on front page of newspapers for wrong reasons. The politicians know what they are doing. Let them continue without consulting us,” said Chiduku.

He argued that the newly resettled areas should remain under the control of traditional leaders, because such areas existed even before the white settlers came into the country.

Chiduku, who was in uncompromising mood, told Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Manicaland, Chris Mushohwe, that it was high time government gave due recognition to traditional leadership.

“Resettled farmers are very stubborn. There is a serious gap in the management of forests. We cannot punish anyone in resettled areas because we have limited powers. We are only left with gowns and helmets,” he said.

Environmental Management Services Director, Debra Magwada weighed in, saying the country has lost close to 1,2 million hectares of forest to veld fires, adding that property worth $479 million had been destroyed. Magwada said four people lost their lives in 2013 as a result of veld fires.

She expressed concern over the figures saying traditional leaders and all stakeholders should play a critical role in educating their subjects about the dangers of veld fires.

She fingered large commercial and A1 farmers as major culprits in causing veld fires, saying they did not take precautionary measures such as putting up fireguards when clearing land.

“As in we speak in 2014, veld fires have already claimed four lives. The issue of veld fires is a national concern considering its impact on food security and national restocking programme,” said Magwada.

Timber Producers Federation (TPF) Chief Executive Office, Johnson Mhungu told the gathering that the issue of veld was a cause for concern and 10,000 people had lost their jobs in the timber industry.

Manicaland Provincial Administrator Fungai Mbetsa said according to The Traditional Leaders Act, resettled areas should fall under the chiefs.

“Government is not undermining the chiefs, but it is a process because there is need for the President to sign a proclamation in regard to such areas,” said Mbetsa, adding that in some areas such as Makoni there were still disputes about boundaries.


  • comment-avatar
    Chaka 9 years ago

    At least chiefs are starting to take their positions.

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    John Thomas 9 years ago

    Sit under a nice shady tree respected chiefs and drink your kichasu. That is what you are good for. The year is 2014.

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    Shamhu YeNhanzva 9 years ago

    Even though I agree with the chiefs’ position on deforestation, I think more than anything else they are craving power. They have always been used by ZANU PF during elections, to coerce people to vote for the ruling party lest they lose their farms. In my book they are just as bad as all the other ZANU PF morons!

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    Nevertheless, chiefs are ZANU PF watchdogs so it doesn’t make any difference. The government along with its traditional mafias needs an urgent overhaul.

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    kutongwa nonjazi 9 years ago

    Machief please. …musatinyangadze, hamusi wemusangano we Zanu here nhai? Talk to Bob

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    Mukanya 9 years ago

    Can these chiefs differentiate themselves from ZPF?

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    The power of the chiefs was in the respect they got from their communities. Once they sold out to zanu for a dollar and usurped people’s rights, they lost everyone’s respect, including that of zanu. They are responsible for their predicament and because of their actions, they are nothing today. They should just ask for new cars as usual.

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    biend 9 years ago

    Chiefs shouldnt expect any respect from their Communities because they are aligned to political parties,they campaign on behalf of political parties,they have abandoned their positions,so how do they expect respect

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      There are no Chiefs in most areas of Zimbabwe. They are Zanu pf political commissionaires. They dabble in National Politics. They deserve all they get. Some will pay when Zimbabwe is free. They have a lot to answer for.

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    thabo 9 years ago

    We mst rspct our tradtional ldrz kwamele sigxeke inkokheli izingapheu kwamakhosi ethu