The Election Resource Centre (ERC) has expressed concern over the defiance of a court order by traditional leaders in Zimbabwe, who have reportedly agreed to frogmarch their subjects to polling stations to vote for the ruling party ahead of the 2023 Harmonised elections.
This comes after the 2nd Secretary of ZANU PF, Kembo Mohadi, revealed the traditional leaders’ agreement during the official opening of the refurbished Mhondoro Hospital in Mubaira, Mashonaland West province.
The ERC had previously filed a High Court application against Chief Charumbira in 2018 after he made comments during a National Council of Chiefs meeting calling on all traditional chiefs to support ZANU PF. The application was based on Section 281 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which prohibits traditional leaders from acting in a partisan manner or furthering the interests of any political party.
On May 14, 2018, the High Court of Zimbabwe ordered that Chief Charumbira retract his statements within 14 days, citing them as unconstitutional and partisan. However, the chief has failed to comply with the court order and continues to defy the justice system.
The ERC has expressed its concerns over the matter, stating that political parties must refrain from activities that defy the constitution as they campaign ahead of the 2023 Harmonised elections. “The comments show the attitude of political parties towards the implementation of the court order issued against Chief Charumbira who continues to defy justice,” a spokesperson for the ERC said.
The ERC’s concerns were echoed by other civic society groups who called for traditional leaders to respect the Constitution and the rule of law. “Traditional leaders should be apolitical and should not be seen to be furthering the interests of any political party,” a member of a civic society group said.
It remains to be seen whether Chief Charumbira will comply with the court order and whether traditional leaders will continue to engage in partisan activities. The ERC has urged all political parties to uphold the constitution and the rule of law as they campaign ahead of the 2023 Harmonised elections.
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