President Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken to social media to respond to concerns from the public regarding the recent dishing out of 226 cars to traditional chiefs by the government.
Responding to a question posed by one Facebook user, George Chimutanga, who queried the decision to award chiefs with 4×4 vehicles at the expense of service delivery, Mnangagwa said the cars were a necessity for traditional leaders as they undertake a great role in the development of their respective areas.
"... chiefs are the leaders of our communities throughout the country. It is necessary for them to be able to move in their communities in which they provide guidance and leadership in terms of our traditions. For that reason it is important that we facilitate that disbursement," said Mnangagwa.
There has been an overwhelming concern from the public on the government decision on chief's cars with some labeling it a vote buying gimmick ahead of the harmonized elections set for July/August.
In an interview with a British Newspaper, the Financial Times, Mnangagwa said the cars were in fact, bought during the (former President) Robert Mugabe administration.
He said the chiefs , like civil servants, are on a government payroll, and one of their benefits entails getting cars.
"The chiefs are on the government payroll. One of their conditions of service is to give them motor vehicles. Whether there's an election or there's no election we'll still give them the motor vehicles and their salary or allowance, whatever.
"This was done by the former administration, except that they had not been given so I've gone ahead to give them. In fact the later vehicles I've given have not been bought by this administration; they were bought by the former administration. It has nothing to do with vote-buying and so on; it's a part of the conditions of service of those chiefs," Mnangagwa told the Financial Times.
Responding to questions raised at a recent business meeting in the capital over the purchase of cars for traditional chiefs in light of tight fiscal measures unveiled in the 2018 national budget, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa said it is important for the new government to honor promises made a couple of years.
The decision has, however, not gone well with the public as they accuse Mnangagwa of being a hypocrite who does not practice what he preaches.
A Twitter survey by 263Chat on Twitter revealed that people were not pleased by the move.
The timing was just wrong. The money could have been channeled to other pressing issues other than being a campaign strategy for the rural vote
- ~the silhouette (@tmvurie) January 15, 2018
@ZimSphere we need ambulances Vanhu varikutakurwa ne ngoro kumusha uko
- talent muzenda (@talent_muzenda) January 15, 2018
We have a lot of hospitals without medicines
- Simz (@Simz21361446) January 15, 2018
can't expect pple who are capable of stealing $15bn to take any kind of responsibility anytime anywhere in anything.
These chiefs are victims of some sort. Get a bakkie, help zanu stay in power at the expense of yo People, and they keep the stolen 15bn, and take 30bn next time