Chiefs must stay away from Zanu PF and out of Partisan Politics

STATEMENT – The MDC notes the disturbing development in the country where chiefs and kraal heads are being coerced to impose Zanu PF wishes on the majority of the people in the countryside of Zimbabwe.

Statements by the President of the Council of Chiefs, Fortune Charumbira, at a chief’s conference in Kariba yesterday, indicating that chiefs should be political commissars and organisers of Zanu PF in the villages and communal areas should be dismissed with the contempt they deserves.

The statements and conduct of some chiefs are not only a violation of the constitution of Zimbabwe which prescribes the involvement of traditional institutions in partisan politics but also wanton abuse of tax payer’s money since all chiefs are being paid from the state coffers. Historically and traditionally, chiefs have been reduced to being a political football In Zimbabwe, being used by unpopular regimes to turn against the people and to oppress them.

During the liberation struggle, the Rhodesian settler regime used and even created some chiefs who were used as weapons against the citizens. The Zanu PF regime has simply learnt nothing and forgotten nothing from Smith’s Rhodesian template of repression.

For more than a century, several generations of chiefs and traditional leaders have suffered under the hands of successive colonial authorities and subsequently the Zanu PF government. Given their role as custodians of Zimbabwe’s tradition, culture, national symbols and heritage, chiefs attracted the interest of successive regimes as politicians sought to undermine the people and confine them to a state of perpetual subjugation and bondage.

It is common cause that Zanu PF is responsible for the chaos and mayhem that dominated politics in post-colonial Zimbabwe for the past 30 years. In an effort to cleanse themselves, they have now seen it fit to point their poisoned arrows at innocent chiefs in an effort to demobilise the people.

Our advice to the chiefs is that they should resist being dragged to the side of losers and risk the embarrassment of rejection by the people. As MDC, we would appreciate the existence of our chiefs as custodians and sacred calabashes of our tradition and culture as opposed to treating them as political opponents. However, in the event that chiefs and traditional leaders choose the path of politics, we shall happily treat them as political competitors with all the impending consequences.

Nonetheless, the MDC firmly stands for the total restoration of the integrity and dignity of traditional institutions. The party strongly believes that deep down in their hearts, Zimbabwean chiefs would rather be left alone to help all the people they survey, in their political, religious and ancestral diversity in a climate of freedom, equality and tolerance.

As such, the MDC calls upon the chiefs to ignore Zanu PF’s evil intentions to separate them from the people through political partisanship. In a new Zimbabwe, the place of a chief shall be guaranteed for the invaluable role it plays in securing societal stability and cultural forbearance. As a party, the MDC is determined to uphold this invariable principle for we are together and united to deliver real change.