ZANU PF has dangled an annual $20 000 each to 272 traditional chiefs under its new Presidential Support Fund Initiative meant for developmental projects in the chiefs’ jurisdiction, saying it is part of its recognition of the role the traditional leaders played in the liberation struggle.
Chiefs have often been used by Zanu PF to drum up support during elections, despite provisions in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that traditional leaders should be apolitical.
The funds will be rolled out after elections — in the event President Robert Mugabe wins on July 31.
According to the party’s manifesto launched last Friday, Zanu PF said chiefs play a key role in spearheading development.
“As the custodian of our culture, tradition and values, the chiefs play an important role in national development,” the election manifesto reads.
“Furthermore, traditional leaders were at the forefront of Zimbabwe’s liberation, especially during the Second Chimurenga and when Zimbabwe indigenised its land during the Third Chimurenga.”
If Zanu PF were to win the forthcoming elections, the party would dole out more than $27 million in five years to traditional leaders, at a time the country could hardly afford basic social services. But the party is adamant, saying Mugabe will launch a policy initiative to capacitate all the chiefs.
“In recognition of this historical fact, President Mugabe will launch a policy initiative to capacitate and empower all chiefs in the country’s eight administrative provinces to implement local development projects that improve community livelihoods,” the manifesto continues.
“The projects will include maintenance and rehabilitation of local physical and social infrastructure such as roads, clinics, boreholes, milling facilities and schools.
“Under the policy initiative, each chief will be allocated $20 000 per year over five years to complement development efforts in the chieftainship.”
Zanu PF has managed over the years to buy the loyalty of some village heads and chiefs with trinkets, including luxury cars, monthly allowances and free maize seed.