- Last Updated on 21 September 2012
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Traditional leaders are allegedly being used as pawns in a big political game by ZANU PF which is making frantic efforts to drum up support ahead of the harmonized elections. In an awkward act that is likely to shock the nation, Chief Matubede Mugabe in Masvingo province suspended kraal head of Mugunzva village, Rangarirai Mugunzva from his throne in August this year alleging that he is an MDC-T activist.
In an interview with The Crisis Report Team, the suspended Kraal head Mugunzva said that Chief Mugabe dethroned and replaced him with one Don Mugabe, a well-known Zanu-PF activist in the area. Mugunzva maintained that the reason for his dethronement was that he had refused to chant Zanu-PF slogans at traditional gatherings as he was compelled to.
"Chief Mugabe instated Don Mugabe despite the fact that I am still the legitimate kraal head. He does not like me because I do not exercise bias when executing my duties. Chief Mugabe is a Zanu PF supporter so he does not want to work with people who hold divergent and neutral views. He is working with Don Mugabe and Sungai Mberi, the Zanu PF chairperson for Ward 13 to force villagers into supporting Zanu PF, € said Mugunzva.
Mugunzva also alleged that since then he has been fighting the suspension with the aid of the Legal Resource Centre in Masvingo adding that the Local District Administrator James Mazvidza was dragging his feet in resolving the matter.
In an interview with The Crisis Report Team, Kraal head Ezekiel Chinodyenama of Chinama village also confirmed the incident adding that Chief Mugabe openly told kraal heads in his area they would be fined for allowing the MDC-T to hold meetings in his area. He also reported that villagers are being harassed with Chief Mugabe imposing unilateral fines on people perceived to be MDC supports. He noted that the fines range from livestock and unreasonable amounts of money.
"Chief Mugabe has been threatening that those who do not comply with his orders will be heavily fined and dismissed from office. As far as we know, traditional leaders are not politicians and should have no reason to ban other political parties' activities. We have however raised the matter with JOMIC and we are keenly waiting for their response, € said Kraal head Chinodyenama.
This incident comes a few weeks after Tatenda Kangora - ZANU PF Youth Officer formerly, Chairperson for Mudzi District is reported to have physically assaulted Claudius Nyamudandara, a village headman, at Chief Rapuchirapu's homestead in the Jigu area of Mudzi.
The beating was based on allegations that the headman was sympathetic to MDC supporters. Nyamudandara is said to have been labelled a 'sell out' to the gains of the liberation struggle because of his connivance with the MDC, to influence the locals into supporting MDC.
In another related incident Chief Mugabe is alleged to have imposed a blanket ban on MDC-T activities in Masvingo following his recent banning of MDC-T political rallies in Mugunzva village saying they are a portent of violence while ZANU-PF rallies are, however, allowed to take place with the chiefs in attendance and compelling their subjects to do the same.
Traditional leaders endorsed President Robert Mugabe as their chosen presidential candidate early this year. Civil society organizations and other pro-democracy movement have always said that Chiefs should be non-partisan and should work with all communities regardless of their political affiliation.