Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
CHIEFS yesterday endorsed President Mnangagwa’s candidature and Zanu-PF ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections saying the ruling party’s policies and ideology speak to the aspirations of the majority of people.
Chiefs across the country resisted colonialism and were determined to maintain self-determination of Africans. Resistance to unjust and oppressive colonial rule culminated in the country’s independence in 1980, with traditional leaders continuing to identify with those who fought to liberate the country.
In post-independence, Zanu and PF Zapu united to form Zanu-PF which remains in power to date.
Addressing delegates who were attending the annual National Chiefs Council Conference which ran for two days in Bulawayo, National Chiefs Council President Chief Fortune Charumbira said there is an inseparable relationship the traditional leaders’ institution and Zanu-PF.
More than 800 traditional leaders — chiefs and headmen — were in Bulawayo. For the first time in history the meeting was attended by headmen from across the country.
The conference was meant to bring Government and traditional leaders under one roof to address some of the challenges affecting chiefs and their subjects. Chief Charumbira said traditional leaders were behind the ruling party and President Mnangagwa ahead of the elections to be held later this year.
“This land was once taken by the white colonialists and as traditional leaders in 1895/1896 we were the first to take arms to fight the imperialists. From then we were then ruled by the whites and our people were resettled by the whites to unfavourable areas. Some of the chiefs were moved from Fort Rixon and were pushed to Midlands. Chief Gwebu was moved from Mbalabala (in Umzingwane District) to (Buhera) Manicaland. If you go to Chief Gwebu’s area in Buhera you will be surprised that they will be speaking in IsiNdebele because they were removed from Mbalabala,” he said.
Chief Charumbira said the unjust colonial rule forced sons and daughters of the soil to take up arms to bring independence to the country.
He said among the people who took up arms was President Mnangagwa, his deputies, Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Cde Kembo Mohadi among others to liberate the country.
“In this room we have Chief Masendu who is a senior Zipra cadre. The point I’m making is that Zanu-PF was formed because traditional leaders had lost their land. I said during the Zanu-PF Conference, the party was formed but the issues that it was fighting had been started by the chiefs when they lost their land. Zanu-PF should be named a party for the traditional leaders, who are the owners of the land,” he said. “Those who took up arms against whites to bring independence were just fulfilling the aspirations of chiefs who led their people who fought in 1893 to 1896. That is where there is a serious bond between Zanu-PF and the traditional leaders. Because they are the ones who fought and liberated the country.”
Chief Charumbira said as the country inches towards harmonised elections, traditional leaders are not afraid to support the ruling party and President Mnangagwa as Zanu-PF’s ideology speaks to aspirations of the majority who were down trodden under colonial rule.
“So, as we go to elect leaders during the elections and ruling party, you should not forget that there are those who fought for you. You cannot just support people whom you met on the streets and said let us rule this country. I’m not ashamed to speak about this and if you are a leader tell the people the truth. With those words, Your Excellency, I want to say, the leaders who are here, we are thankful and we are behind you in the coming elections don’t listen to those who are gossiping. We truly love you,” said Chief Charumbira.
He said traditional leaders were satisfied with President Mnangagwa’s citizen-centric policies which were aiming at uplifting the lives of communities.
Chief Charumbira said Government is providing farming inputs to communities while constructing dams and drilling boreholes as part of initiatives to improve livelihoods.