Partisan chiefs continue to lose out on opportunities to effect exemplary leadership "¦ as Chief Charumbira attacks NGOs

Traditional Chiefs are duty bound to serve their people and effective traditional leadership through them can only be possible if they are impartial. Such a golden chance to attend to matters affecting local communities and rebuilding societies is fast slipping away from traditional leaders, it would seem. Statements by Chiefs Council President, Chief Fortune Charumbira certify the view.

Speaking at a National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) national conference at the Chevron Hotel in Masvingo on the 25th of September 2012, Charumbira had the following to say:

"Non-Governmental-Organisations operating in the country wishing to carry out activities in rural areas should consult chiefs and other traditional leaders before implementing programmes to avoid problems. €

The meeting was attended by among others, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Masvingo Provincial Administrator Mr Felix Chikovo, Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation's provincial structures, Joint Monitoring Commission (JOMIC) and CSO representatives was meant to cement relationships between civic society organisations, chiefs and Government departments.

Chief Charumbira further said some civil society organizations were working in co-hoots with politicians to denigrate traditional leaders and hinted that such organizations will not be allowed to carry out their activities without clearance from traditional leaders. He added that NGOs should desist from being used by politicians to reverse the gains of the liberation struggle in which chiefs are the only remaining custodians of these gains of the hard fought independence. Chief Fortune Charumbira a self-proclaimed supporter of Zanu PF in his address also said,


"Let me be clear on the issue of some civic organizations who are working with politicians to denounce the role of traditional leaders in the media. We have read reports of politicians who are slamming us for alleged bias against their respective parties but we have to be clear on the matter. We will not accept organizations that come from nowhere and just invade the rural areas because these organizations end up inciting the people to disobey us. Therefore some elements are too dangerous to be allowed to address the people without some form of verification and approval."

Chief Charumbira denied allegations of traditional leaders in Masvingo politicising food aid.   "I am yet to know of a chief who writes names of beneficiaries of food aid. That is not the chief's job to do that and I challenge you to identify those who do it, if any. Chiefs won't stoop so low to the extent of sitting down and writing names of beneficiaries of food aid in a community. In actual sense even councillors do not benefit from relief food, they get their allocation from Government."

Addressing the meeting participants Chief Charumbira said NGOs and members of the public are free to file their 'genuine' complaints to the chiefs' council if they encounter any challenges in dealing with traditional leaders.

Mr Wilster Sitemere (Provisional Chairperson of MDC, Masvingo Constituency) in an interview with the Crisis Report team, expressed concern over the statements and conduct of chiefs highlighting that they are not only a violation of the constitution of Zimbabwe which prescribes the involvement of traditional institutions in partisan politics but an abuse of power.


Another local based in Masvingo, Zivanai Muzorodzi, said Chief Charumbira`s utterances were reckless and uncouth. He added that such statements were an impediment to democracy and freedom of association and assembly. He argued that the move was well timed to drum up support for Zanu PF ahead of the referendum.


"Chief Charumbira has made it clear that he is not willing to work with NGOs and MDC members because he accused them of addressing rallies without consulting him. It is clear chiefs are ready to drum up support for Zanu PF ahead of the referendum and we have a worrying trend, "said Muzorodzi.

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