By Moses Ziyambi
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has rubbished the neutrality of traditional leaders as enshrined in the constitution saying the clause only passed for the sake of progress.
Chapter 5 of the constitution recognizes the judicial powers of traditional chiefs but also states that those powers must be exercised impartially.
Section 280 (2) partly reads: “Traditional leaders must not- … (b) act in any partisan manner (c) further the interests of any political party or cause…”
Speaking at a judicial open day event in Masvingo, Mnangagwa, however stated that the neutrality of chiefs is practically impossible since their participation is crucial in ZANU PF’s political strategies.
“Apa ndopane nhamo apa. Takangoita kuti zvinyogwe saizvozvo asi taingoita kuti zvifambe (Here lies the problem; we just included this clause to avoid a deadlock),” said Mnangagwa as he delivered his address on the provisions of Chapter 5 of the constitution.
The constitution making exercise was often marred by several disagreements that at some stages threatened to stall the process.
Mnangagwa further said chiefs were instrumental in the identification and mobilization of the ruling party’s support base to ensure victory at elections as was the case in the recent parliamentary by-elections.
“In Tsholotsho, we delivered our message through the chiefs; neNdebele yatatisingagoni yakabuda tichivaudza kuti vhoterai mwana wenyu. Vanhu vakasara vakatovhota saizvozvo isu tadzokera zvedu kuHarare (We had to plead with the chiefs in the little Ndebele that we knew to tell their subjects to vote for our candidate. The people ultimately did that but we had already gone back to Harare),” said Mnangagwa.
The Tsholotsho by-election was won by Professor Jonathan Moyo after a grand campaign programme that included an array of traditional chiefs from the area.
ZANU PF has often denied opposition claims that chiefs are being used to further partisan political interests.
The event was attended by a host of traditional leaders including Council of Chiefs President; Fortune Charumbira, Chief Serima of Gutu and Chief Nyakunhuwa of Zaka.politics