Zvamaida Murwira and Felex Share, Harare Bureau
Chief Musarurwa allegedly tried to bribe other traditional leaders with blankets ahead of yesterday’s elections for the posts of president and deputy president of the Chiefs Council.
It is understood that Chief Musarurwa, who wanted to contest Chief Charumbira for the presidency, made a last-minute withdrawal on Tuesday night after most traditional leaders rejected his manoeuvres and exposed him.
This saw Chief Charumbira winning the elections uncontested.
Chief Charumbira’s deputy, Chief Mtshane Khumalo from Matabeleland North, was also nominated without any contest to retain the post.
Chief Musarurwa was reportedly working with businessman Mr Stanley Kasukuwere, who was trying to influence traditional leaders from his home province, Mashonaland Central.
Several traditional leaders interviewed by our Harare Bureau confirmed Chief Musarurwa wanted to bribe them.
Chief Chiwara said Chief Musarurwa had approached him.
“I met him when I was coming out of my room to have food (at Rainbow Towers),” he said. “He told me that we had to finish the job as we could not continue to be ruled by the current president of the Chiefs Council.
“He then said he has my parcel downstairs. I later learnt they were blankets which had been bought for me after he went downstairs with Chief Mazungunye’s son. I categorically told them that I don’t even want to see the blankets as I have blankets at home.
“I told them that if it was about voting, that was my right and I would exercise that secretly without being influenced.”
Chief Mazungunye of Bikita also confirmed Chief Musarurwa’s shenanigans.
“He personally phoned me while I was on my way to Harare,” he said. “He phoned again after I had checked in into the hotel. He came and knocked at my door before telling me to vote for him saying he was my son.
“He then said he had gifts which he was giving people and he wanted me to benefit. I then instructed my driver to go with him while I told Chief Charumbira and my provincial chairperson Chief Chitanga. We wanted the blankets to come and use them as exhibit. When they came, pictures of the blankets were taken.”
Chief Musarurwa and Mr Kasukuwere yesterday denied the allegations.
“I don’t know about that,” said Chief Musarurwa. “If there is a chief who came with the blankets, he bought them for himself. But does it mean we don’t have to associate? In elections, everyone uses various means to succeed, but I don’t know about the allegations.”
Mr Kasukuwere said: “I am young and have nothing to do with chiefs. Chief Chiweshe is from my area, but I don’t even know what chiefs were doing. I just read about it in the press. I don’t get anything from that.”
Mr Kasukuwere is said to have spent the better part of Tuesday with Chief Musarurwa and Chief Chiweshe, having meetings at Rainbow Towers Hotel and Harare Showgrounds.
He is alleged to have offered Chief Chiweshe four beasts to back Chief Musarurwa.
Chief Chiweshe responded: “That’s not the story. I don’t want to talk to you.”
Chief Charumbira and Chief Mtshane retain their positions as leaders of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs, positions that automatically make them Senators.
The election was conducted by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officials at Mkwati Building in Harare ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections.
Chief Charumbira comes from Masvingo province, while Chief Mtshane is from Matabeleland North.
Zec presiding officer, Mr James Chidamba, declared the two duly elected after there were no other nominations for the posts.
“I, James Chidamba, being the presiding officer of the election of president of national Chiefs’ Council do hereby declare that at the close of nomination only one chief was duly nominated,” he said. “As such, I, therefore, declare the said chief to be duly elected as President of the National Chiefs’ Council.”
At least 36 chiefs from eight provinces constituted the Electoral College. In his acceptance speech, Chief Charumbira implored political parties to emulate traditional leaders for conducting their elections in a peaceful and organised way.
“Political parties should take a leaf from us,” he said. “The elections were just like the weather, very cool. We promise we will remain the usual listeners. In the next five years we will have to refocus from a rudimentary needs to an output oriented leadership consistent with the thrust of the new dispensation. We now have consistent pay days, vehicles, we now look at other responsibilities like environmental and land management.”
Chief Charumbira commended the way the electoral process was conducted, saying it showed maturity.
“We are peacemakers, we do not seek to outdo each other,” he said. “It is a sign of consensus within the institution. Elections should not lead to division or injuries. We will now focus on the forthcoming elections to ensure they are held in a peaceful environment.”
Chief Mtshane thanked his colleagues for showing confidence in his leadership and pledged to continue with projects they had initiated for traditional leaders.
The elections for the Chiefs’ Council followed a proclamation by President Mnangagwa for the polls.
Provincial assembly of Chiefs met on July 11 at various centres across eight provinces excluding Harare and Bulawayo, to elect members of the Council of Chiefs. The president and his deputy would become ex-officio Senators.
On August 1, the eight provincial assemblies of chiefs will convene again to elect two chiefs to represent each province in the Senate.