THE new demands by the country’s traditional chiefs to be accorded the same status as judges and magistrates did not come as a surprise, but is still a cause for serious concern.
Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira on Wednesday said the traditional leaders handled more cases than magistrates and judges in their traditional courts, hence there was no justification for their lowly allowances.
He said chiefs got around $15 per month for trying cases and some traditional leader could end up being tempted to charge more.
Charumbira claimed that traditional courts were underfunded and treated with contempt by the Judicial Services Commission.
In the past, chiefs have demanded things such as guns, diplomatic passports, new motor vehicles, farms and a share of the proceeds from the 10% community share ownership scheme garnished from foreign-owned mining companies.
Already the traditional leaders enjoy privileges that their subjects can only dream of such as electrified homesteads, government paid allowances, well-built homesteads and vehicles bought at concessionary rates.
However, the chiefs do not seem to be satisfied with such privileges as exemplified by Charumbira’s statements.
The institution of chieftaincy has over the years been tarnished by the decision of some chiefs to dabble in partisan politics.
Charumbira himself is a sworn Zanu PF member and he does not seem ashamed about it. He is also a former government minister and is well versed in matters of the State.
Unfortunately Zimbabwean chiefs are now increasingly being seen as opportunists who are chasing money instead of fulfilling their known roles of promoting traditional values and social cohesion.
A significant number of chiefs throughout the country has been sucked into partisan politics and can no longer be trusted to unite subjects.
The chiefs as an institution are fast losing respect and people such as Charumbira do not need to exacerbate the sad state of affairs.
Instead of seeking to join others on the feeding trough, chiefs need to be seeking concrete ways of rescuing their subjects from dire poverty and the attendant destruction of the social fabric.