By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Civic society organisations have condemned traditional leaders for deliberately violating Section 281 of the Constitution by declaring their support for President Robert Mugabe’s candidature for the impending 2018 elections.
During the National Annual Chiefs Conference held in Bulawayo last week, Zimbabwe’s Chiefs Council (ZCC) president Fortune Charumbira announced that the chiefs were fully behind the candidature of the 93-year-old leader.
The endorsement also comes at a time when financially broke government which is failing to even buy condoms to fight HIV/Aids, splashed unbudgeted millions of dollars to acquire latest Isuzu double-cab vehicles for the same chiefs.
However, in an interview, Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) advocacy officer George Makoni said the decision made by chiefs was in direct violation of the country’s supreme law.
“According to Section 281 of the new constitution, traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics.
“It is clear that the custodians of our culture bent the law and it confirms all the reports we have been hearing from rural constituencies where known opposition activists are being frustrated when trying to register in the on-going BVR exercise by traditional leaders,” said Makoni.
Commenting on the same issue on Twitter, Heal Zimbabwe programs officer Cleto Mantova urged chiefs to recognise the supremacy of the constitution.
“#NOTmyChief Say NO to Chiefs who doubles as political commissars- The Constitution is supreme and should be respected,” Mantova said.
Heal Zimbabwe and CCDZ have been actively monitoring the BVR process in the rural areas where there have been numerous reports of how some traditional leaders are allegedly demanding payment to process proof of residents for people intending to register to vote.
Other chiefs are also alleged to be ordering their subjects to reveal serial numbers on their certificate of registrations and compiling them.
Meanwhile, seasoned constitutional lawyer Tendai Biti has revealed that he will be filing a court application challenging the chiefs’ infamous declaration.
“In few days time, we are filing a court application challenging the chiefs’ declaration supporting the dictator. We will take the fight to them,” said Biti on his Twitter handle.