Govt 'bribes' to chiefs escalated

HARARE - In a move that has been roundly criticised by the opposition as “2018 bribes”, President Robert Mugabe’s stone-broke government is to splurge millions of scarce United States dollars on new vehicles for traditional leaders.

This comes as Zimbabwe has just been officially ranked as the poorest country in Africa, at a time that the nation is also experiencing a severe shortage of cash.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Rural Development minister Abedinico Ncube revealed that the government would be buying new cars for the country’s 226 chiefs, as part of the fulfilment of promises that Zanu PF made in the aftermath of the 2013 elections.

“It (buying new cars) is something we are working on.  We are going to give them (chiefs) very shortly… all 226 registered chiefs will get the cars,” Ncube said, responding to questions on how much the government had budgeted for chiefs’ to have vehicles before the expiry of the current parliamentary term.

Apart from splurging on new cars for the traditional leaders, the stone-broke government will also continue to pay village heads $25 in monthly allowances.

“They are not given salaries, but this is an allowance. Every village head is entitled to be given an allowance.

“For those who are not receiving their allowances, they must approach the relevant authorities  . . . those who are not registered they must also do the same for them to get their allowances,” Ncube said.

Traditional leaders have often been accused by the opposition and rights groups of aiding Zanu PF to retain power through terror campaigns and partisan food distribution in rural areas.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai recently warned that Mugabe and his warring ruling Zanu PF — fearful of receiving an even bigger poll shellacking than they got in 2008 — were already working feverishly to steal next year’s eagerly-anticipated elections.

Tsvangirai’s concerns emerged as the MDC president was concluding his tour of Mashonaland East, where he interacted with traditional leaders — who opened up to him on how they were already being roped in by Zanu PF to become part of the apparatus to ensure victory for the ruling party in 2018.

Traditional chief after traditional chief had apparently told Tsvangirai during his tour of the restive Mashonaland East Province, which is traditionally a Zanu PF stronghold, that they were being forced to not only join the ruling party, but to also lead its cells and wards — and to actively work to help rig next year’s polls.

“There is a plan by Zanu PF to steal next year’s elections. We have been on the ground here in Mashonaland East and what we are seeing and hearing is that Zanu PF wants to steal the next elections again, after they took over the BVR (biometric voter registration) process, in addition to commandeering chiefs, village heads and headmen on board this devious scheme.

“The fearful village heads all said they were forced to be chairpersons of Zanu PF’s cells. That way, Zanu PF will coerce them to frog-march people to vote for the ruling party.

“So, the sum total of Zanu PF’s ploy is that it is assimilating traditional leaders into its partisan structures, abusing them in the process

“However, we will do all that we can to ensure that traditional leaders are not abused and absorbed into Zanu PF structures? Indeed, the rights of traditional leaders must and will be observed,” Tsvangirai said then.

Zimbabwe is deep in the throes of a huge economic crisis which has led to horrendous company closures and the consequent loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

At the same time, economists have said that poverty levels in the country are skyrocketing, with average incomes now at their lowest levels in more than 60 years — with more than 76 percent of the country’s families now having to make do with pitiful incomes that are well below the poverty datum line.

Comments (2)

Nothing new hear, the colonial government used the same so called chiefs to keep the natives in reserves. Zanu is using them to keep power. The majority of these chiefs especially those who force march their communities to the ballot box are not fit for purpose and have no cultural relevance.

Galore - 12 May 2017

MDC-t should not be crying babies work up guys.if you see zanu pf rigging the elections you find ways to counter that

MULA - 12 May 2017

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