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Mnangagwa pampered MPs, ministers for political survival
President Emmerson Mnangagwa greets supporters of his ruling ZANU PF party gather for an election rally in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC1A80283490


Chiefs receive vehicles as the third-term bid gathers pace



THE dolling out of top-of-the-range all-terrain vehicles to 100 chiefs from across the country by the government has raised eyebrows amid revelations that the traditional leaders are being rewarded for campaigning for Zanu PF ahead of last year’s general elections while at the same time being conditioned to rally behind President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s third-term bid.


Chiefs and other traditional leaders play a crucial role during Zanu PF’s election campaigns, including through coercion of villagers and manipulation of food aid distribution.

In the August 2023 elections they worked with Zanu PF affiliate Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (Faz) to implement the ruling party’s agenda.

Chiefs received cars ahead of last year’s general elections but this did not stop Mnangagwa from handing them 100 brand new vehicles on 29 February on the pretext that are replacing the “old” fleet.

In his speech, Mnangagwa said: “Given the role of our traditional leaders as custodians of our culture, traditions, history and heritage, among other responsibilities, it is necessary that their dignity and conditions be of acceptable standards.

Besides being traditional leaders, chiefs are also public servants, who are mandated by the constitution of Zimbabwe to preside over their people, promote sound family values, resolve disputes and,  more importantly, champion the promotion and preservation of our culture and heritage. They are a critical cog in the national governance architecture.”

In another move to appease the traditional leaders, in November last year Mnangagwa approved a sliding scale of bonuses for the chiefs, barely two months after he had won a controversial election in which they actively campaigned for him together with Faz in rural areas.

The latest bonus payments were paid to the traditional leaders in November and December.
In a letter to Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary Tsitsi Choruma dated 7 November 2023, Finance ministry permanent secretary George Guvamatanga said the traditional leaders would get the bonuses both in local currency and United States dollars.

He announced that all chiefs would get US$300 and ZW$ 337 256 with headmen getting US$210 and ZW$168 629. Village heads were given US$100 and ZW$84 314.

Guvamatanga also announced that messengers of chiefs and headman would also get a windfall.

Chiefs’ messengers got bonuses of US$100 and ZW$42 157, while the headmen messengers got the same United States dollar amount and ZW$31 619.

Part of Guvamatanga’s letter to PSC boss Choruma reads: “I write with reference to the above subject (Payment of bonuses). As you are aware, Government has traditionally awarded a perfomance reward to public service employees in the form of a thirteenth cheque after the end of the year.

“In line with the established tradition and in recognition of the efforts of public service workers, Government has approved a bonus award for public service employees and traditional leaders . . . The approved bonus award is payable in the respective currencies (US$ and ZW$) . . .”

Section 281(2) of the constitution states that traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics; act in a partisan manner; further the interests of any political party or cause.

However, chiefs and headmen were a vital cog in Zanu PF and Mnangagwa’s campaigns in the last election, working with Faz. As he prepares his third term bid, the country’s leader will be hoping to base his campaigns on them.

In last year’s elections, the chiefs actively campaigned for Zanu PF, in violation of the law.
In Marange, Headman Chiadzwa declared the diamond zone a no-go area for opposition parties.

Chief Chireya in Gokwe also campaigned heavily for Zanu PF and even went further to try and influence the villagers to vote for his preferred candidate in the party’s primary polls.

In the case which exposed traditional leaders who should be apolitical according to the constitution since they serve people of diverse persuasions, Chief Chireya, born Henry Chidzivo, was supporting Tapiwa Muduvuri during the primary elections and instructed his subjects to vote for Muduvuri as the parliamentary candidate for Gokwe-Chireya.

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