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Zimbabwe: How Zanu PF uses traditional chiefs to buy votes in rural areas

By Farai Shawn Matiashe

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Posted on January 3, 2022 06:51

ZANU PF supporters gesture after attending the final rally at the National Sports Stadium in Harare
ZANU PF supporters gesture after attending the final rally at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The Zanu PF party has long been accused by civil society organisations and opposition leaders of using state resources and traditional chiefs to perpetuate the ruling party’s ideologies and influence elections particularly in their heartland: the rural areas. The recent comments made by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, when he threatened a local chief, is indicative of how Zanu PF exerts its control over traditional leaders. 

During a funeral, Chief Murinye of Masvingo (born Ephias Munodawafa) – who publicly admitted that he is a die-hard Zanu PF supporter –  accused ‘criminals’ surrounding President Emmerson Mnangagwa, including his sons, allies, Zanu PF leaders and top government officials, of corruption and looting gold ore in the Masvingo province.

Following his comments, Mnangagwa summoned 272 traditional chiefs to the capital Harare to issue a chilling warning to them to halt criticism of the government.

On Friday 17 December, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga told the traditional chiefs delegation that what Chief Murinye said to the “paramount chief [Mnangagwa] is never done”.

Chiwenga, a retired military general who led the military coup that toppled long-term ruler Robert Mugabe leading to Mnangagwa’s presidency in November 2017, reminded the traditional chiefs that they can be stripped of their

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