GOVERNMENT has approved a sliding scale of bonuses for traditional leaders barely two months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a controversial election in which they actively campaigned for him together with Zanu PF’s shadowy group Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) in rural areas.
The latest bonus payments for the traditional leaders will be paid 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 dollar.
All chiefs will get US$300 and ZW$ 337 256. Headmen will get US$210 and ZW$168 629 while village heads get US$100 and ZW$84 314.
In another shocking development, Guvamatanga also announced that messengers of chiefs and headman will also get a windfall.
Chiefs’ messengers will receive bonuses of US$100 and ZW$42 157, while the headmen messengers will get 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$) . . .”
The letter was copied to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and his deputy Kudakwashe Mnangagwa, who is President Mnangagwa’s son.
Also copied are Public Service minister July Moyo; Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Martin Rushwaya; chairperson of the PSC Vincent Hungwe; secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Simon Masanga and chief director of expenditure management Percy Takavarasha.
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.
In Marange, Headman Chiadzwa declared the diamond area 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.
However, Muduvuri was defeated by the sitting legislator for the constituency, Torerai Moyo, during the ruling party primary elections, which angered Chireya.
In other rural areas, chiefs coerced their subjects to vote for Zanu PF and used the government food handouts scheme to punish those defiant by excluding them from the lists of beneficiaries.
Before the elections in February 2019, the former Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira torched a storm while speaking at Chief Chapoto’s burial in Kanyemba when he said no chief should be seen supporting an opposition party.
“All Zimbabwean chiefs belong to Zanu PF and they should support President Mnangagwa if at all they want peace. No traditional chief should be seen supporting any opposition party. That is not accepted in the history of Zimbabwe,” Charumbira said.
Before that incident, the High Court had upheld an order compelling the then Local Government minister July Moyo to institute disciplinary action against Charumbira for his remarks calling on all chiefs to support Zanu PF ahead of the 2018 elections.
Charumbira had applied for rescission of judgment against the order which was granted in favour of the Election Resource Centre compelling him to withdraw in writing his comments.