Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) castigates the behaviour of Chimanimani West traditional leaders that continue to violate the rights of villagers as punishment almost two weeks after a by-election that was riddled with vote buying.
Village head Masasi and the Zanu PF Ward Chairman, Washington Dirikwe, are alleged to have ordered six villagers to return bags of maize that they had received as part of a food aid scheme. The Department of Social Welfare distributed 600 bags of 50kg maize on 6 December at Arex offices in Nyanyadzi. During the distribution of food aid, the traditional leaders announced to villagers that food aid was only to benefit Zanu PF card-carrying members and supporters. Of the six victims, two were polling agents for Admore Mtetwa. Mtetwa vied for Member of Parliament at the Chimanimani West by-election on 26 November.
Prior to the election village heads in Chimanimani West were accused of using food aid to lure villagers to vote for Zanu PF candidate Nokuthula Matsikenyeri while Zanu PF Provincial Youth Chairperson, Mubuso Chinguno, was accused of intimidating villagers and insisting that some of them should be assisted to vote despite the obvious capability of the said voters to exercise their right freely.
ZPP calls on local leaders to diligently and fairly execute their duties. Subject to the Traditional Leaders Act, village heads in discharging their functions should not be influenced by political affiliation and they should at all times uphold laws of Zimbabwe. In addition, Section 281 of the Constitution notes that traditional leaders must not act in a partisan manner. In this regard the village heads and other local leaders should respect people’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to food and political choice.