Traditional leaders should be impartial and non-partisan

Heal Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the remarks attributed to the Chief’s Council President Fortune Charumbira who openly declared his allegiance to President Mugabe and ZANU PF in clearly contradiction of the Constitution. Speaking during the annual Chiefs Conference in Bulawayo on the 28th of October 2017, Chief Charumbira was quoted encouraging traditional leaders to campaign for the ruling ZANU PF party in the upcoming elections. Chief Charumbira personally declared his allegiance to ZANU PF highlighting that the institution of traditional leaders will support and vote for the ruling ZANU PF in the 2018 elections. Heal Zimbabwe views such utterances as reckless, unfortunate and a direct contradiction of section 281 of the constitution which states that traditional leaders should not act in a partisan manner or participate in partisan politics.

The constitution forbids Traditional leaders from being members of any political party as this greatly compromises the discharge of their duties such as resolving disputes amongst people in their communities. Over the years, the once emulated institution of Traditional leadership has become compromised due to infiltration by political parties who have used the institution for political expediency and gain. The utterances by Chief Charumbira comes at a time Heal Zimbabwe has recorded numerous human rights violations linked to Traditional leaders sympathetic to the ruling ZANU PF party. The organisation calls upon the traditional leaders to respect the constitution and reassure citizens that they are non-partisan and shall perform their duties and responsibilities in a professional and non-partisan manner that allows all citizens regardless of political affiliation equal access to resources and guaranteed non-discrimination on partisan basis.

Heal Zimbabwe further implores the traditional leaders to desist from spreading hate, intolerance and inciteful statements as this compromises community peace and cohesion especially now as the country is faced with another round of elections in 2018. HZT also further calls upon political parties to desist from using traditional leaders for political expedience. The organisation further calls for the realignment of the traditional Leaders Act to the Constitution which clearly stipulates in Chapter 15 section 281 (2) that: “Traditional leaders must not–(a) be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics; (b) act in a partisan manner; (c) further the interests of any political party or cause; or (d) violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.” Heal Zimbabwe together with other Civil Society Organisations and Community Based Organisations will hand over a petition to Parliament next week demanding the realignment of the Traditional Leaders Act to the new Constitution. The organisation will also formally write to Chief Charumbira in his capacity as the leader of the traditional leaders reminding him of the need to uphold the values, beliefs and constitutional responsibilities of the traditional leaders as this allows communities to live in peace and harmony.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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