18 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Court Ends Chiefs' Illegal Role in Zimbabwe Politics

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe's traditional chiefs (file photo).

Harare — The Zimbabwean High Court has ruled against the decades-long dabbling in partisan politics by traditional leaders.

Partisan interference by chiefs has for years been cited as the cornerstone of the ruling Zimbabwe African Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF's) stranglehold on power since independence in in 1980.

The High Court in the ancient town of Masvingo has ordered in favour of opposition leader, Elton Mangoma, banning all traditional leaders from meddling in the politics of the country which is set to hold crucial elections in July or August.

Mangoma's legal challenge came after National Chiefs Council head, Fortune Charumbira, pledged the organisation's support for ZANU-PF.

Justice Garainesu Mawadze, has ordered all traditional leaders who include chiefs, head persons or village heads as provided in sections of the constitution, must not be involved in partisan politics as this was a violation of the right to a free and fair election.

He declared conducting of campaigns on behalf of the ruling party by traditional leaders as unconstitutional.

Mawadze has subsequently ordered the setting up of an inquiry to probe defiant chiefs.

Traditional leaders play a prominent but mostly controversial role in Zimbabwean politics.

Mostly aligned to the ruling party since independence from Britain 38 years ago, they are accused of pressuring their subjects to vote for the party and victimising opposition supporters.

Chiefs are accused of denying opposition supporters food aid in the drought-prone country.

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