Traditional chiefs in Zimbabwe this week endorsed President Robert Mugabe to stand for re-election to the presidency in elections he has proposed for 2011, joining the ZANU-PF Women’s League which recently gave him the nod.
Though the 2008 Global Political Agreement underpinning Harare's national unity government prohibits traditional leaders from taking sides politically, the chiefs told President Mugabe on Thursday at a conference in northern Kariba that they were pleased with his leadership and wanted him to continue as commander-in-chief.
Chiefs Council President Fortune Charumbira was quoted in the state-controlled, pro-ZANU-PF Herald newspaper as telling Mugabe, “We will be happy if you continue at the helm.” VOA could not reach Charumbira for comment.
President Mugabe told the chiefs to actively participate in politics, saying there is nothing wrong with this.
Reverting to his trademark anti-Western rhetoric, Mr. Mugabe took a swipe at Britain and the United States which he called “damn fools,” saying the two countries were meddling in Zimbabwe’s political affairs. "They say we have not done much in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. Who are you damn fools?" he snapped.
Gwanda North lawmaker Thandeko Zinti Mkandla of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo the chiefs should stay out of politics. "The chiefs got overexcited and overzealous in their comments. Chiefs should be very much apolitical," he said.
His sentiments were echoed by former Nkayi lawmaker Abednico Bhebhe, who added that traditional leaders should abide by the terms of the Global Political Agreement, which has quasi-constitutional force.