ED to meet chiefs

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa will next week meet with traditional leaders in the Midlands capital of Gweru, his spokesperson George Charamba has said.

In a statement yesterday, Charamba said Mnangagwa was scheduled to meet all the country’s 282 chiefs on January 12  “as part of his ongoing programme to connect and acquaint himself with the different echelons, interests and players of our nation”.

“The president is expected to take advantage of the meeting to get the views and expectations of communities on government’s performance and services while also briefing our traditional leaders on the vision, programmes  and expectations of his new administration as these relate to rural areas where the majority of Zimbabweans live,” Charamba said.

Charamba added that Mnangagwa will also discuss with chiefs their welfare, describing traditional leaders as “key players in the mobilising and orchestrating national development through community involvement and empowerment.”

This comes just after deposed president Robert Mugabe had just bought 226 top class Ford Ranger vehicles for the traditional chiefs in a move sledged by opposition parties.

After receiving the cars in October last year, Fortune Charumbira, the president of the Chiefs’ Council, called upon chiefs to campaign for  Zanu PF party to ensure it wins the forthcoming election.

Charumbira told the official opening of the 2017 edition of the National Annual Conference of chiefs held in Bulawayo  that chiefs must back the former Zanu PF leader because he recognises and respects traditional leaders.

“As chiefs, we agreed during the 2014 congress that Cde Mugabe is our candidate for the 2018 elections. We are all united and he is still our candidate. We have been supporting him and we can confirm that winning is guaranteed,” Charumbira said.

After the overthrow of Mugabe, chiefs again met in Nyanga last month where they pledged their support to Mnangagwa during a meeting with National Assembly member Supa Mandiwanzira who was briefing them on the new dispensation in the wake of “Operation Restore Legacy”.

Traditional leaders led by Headman SaMhembere said they were happy with the new developments in Zanu PF, conveniently claiming that they were not impressed with what was happening when Mugabe was in charge.

“People in villages did not know where the party was now heading to, but now we feel safe and happy. We want to thank you Honourable Mandiwanzira for coming to tell us what is happening on the ground. We will take the word to the people and we really appreciate.

“The operation helped a lot and what we really appreciate is that Zanu PF is now intact. We are more than happy that Mnangagwa is in charge.

“What Mandiwanzira has done, coming here to tell us what is on the ground is important so that we go out there and tell the people and we start working,” he said.