Abuse of Traditional Leaders in Tsholotsho During Food Aid Registration a Cause For Concern

Community members from Tsholotsho District have singled out abuse of Traditional leaders by politicians as a major concern that has potential of plunging vulnerable groups into starvation. This came out during a Virtual District dialogue convened by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Tsholotsho District on 8 November 2020.

Participants highlighted that in some wards, some Traditional leaders, mostly Village heads wear regalia belonging to political parties during food aid registration and distribution meetings.” Tsholotsho is a semi arid region hence issues of food insecurity but it is shocking that during food aid registration and distribution, some Village heads wear T-shirts belonging to certain political parties, this creates biases as in most cases, vulnerable groups such as orphans and the disabled are overlooked.

In some instances Village heads get directives from local political leaders when registering and distributing food aid”, said one participant. Other issues that came out during the dialogue include the absence of grassroots local government structures such as Village Development Committees (VIDCOs) and Ward Development Committees (WADCOs). These structures are responsible for identifying and coordinating development initiatives at the local level. Participants noted that in some wards and villages these structures were nonexistent and this made it difficult for active participation of citizens and dealt a heavy blow to development.

As part of resolutions, the dialogue unanimously resolved that there was need to conscientise Traditional Leaders on their constitutional roles such as the important role of facilitation of development enshrined in Section 282 (1)(c) of the constitution. In light of this, the dialogue established committees in all the wards that are going to be responsible for engaging Traditional leaders and conscientising them of their constitutional obligations.

These committees will also be responsible for monitoring food registration and distribution meetings and providing periodic reports to the virtual platform that will be used during engagement initiatives. The dialogue meetings are one among many interventions by Heal Zimbabwe to strengthen capacity of citizens to uphold participation, inclusion, transparency, accountability, and responsiveness principles and mechanisms. Such interventions help build peaceful and socially cohesive communities.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe Trust