9th ParliamentArticlesOpinion

Chief Charumbira must respect the judiciary

By Joel Mandaza

Part of what is wrong with this country is the disrespect for institutions of democracy by those in leadership positions.

This diminishes the element of checks and balances which are the hallmark of any well meaning system of governance in modern civilisation.

When an institution entrusted by the constitution to act in the best interest of the country makes a declaration, it has to be respected.

Sadly, this ideal has been far from the case in Zimbabwe.

Chief Fortune Charumbira, a traditional leader and Senator is one of those who can be used as example of leaders who do not respect institutions.

The controversial chief, recently was at the Zanu PF Annual Conference in Goromonzi shamelessly taking active part in the party`s political processes.

This is despite the fact that the chief is forbidden by Section 281 of the Zimbabwean Constitution from acting in a partisan manner.

Charumbira however acts like the constitution does not apply to him as he continues to exhibit flagrant disregard of the constitution.

So explicit is his involvement in Zanu PF issues, he even comments on succession issues.

He has been taken to court for that and has been ordered to behave in a non-partisan manner.

In May 2018, High Court Judge Justice Clement Phiri ordered Chief Charumbira to withdraw political statements he had passed in support of Zanu PF.

The order has however been repeatedly ignored, with the recent Zanu PF conference being the latest exhibit.

The Election Resource Centre who took Charumbira to court the last time, are again approaching the courts to have the previous judgment upheld as the chief has been stubbornly partisan.

What happens when a man who is part of the legislature, fails to respect orders from the judiciary?
When parliament makes laws, it expects the citizenry to follow them to maintain social order, they should lead by example.

Senate itself has to ensure it maintains the integrity it is expected to uphold by ensuring its members are compliant with the law.

A man who does not respect the rule of law cannot be entrusted with the function of refining laws to be applied by a judiciary he is not compliant with.

Senate should compel Chief Charumbira to act in accordance with the law.

This will ensure there continues to be confidence in the Senate as a respectable layer of our lawmaking.

Chief Charumbira himself is an extension of the judiciary, albeit at a lower level.

Requirements of political impartiality are not to stop him from waxing lyrical to Zanu PF like he did at the conference, but it an understanding that politics is one of the most divisive realities of our societies.

For a leader who is expected to use indigenous knowledge to solve disputes within his society, he cannot be trusted to be fair to those of different persuasions as him.

This is why people who are involved in the dispensation of justice should be seen to be neutral at all times.

When he presides over matters at his community courts, Charumbira expects what he orders to be executed as instructed, why is he not showing the same courtesy to a court of law?
If he does not believe the judgment is just and reflects an accurate interpretation of the law, he can appeal to a higher court.

Once the appeal is adopted by the courts, the judgment can be temporarily set aside awaiting determination.

Until then, he has to desist from taking part in Zanu PF politics as if he does not know what the constitution says.

It is deplorable for a respectable member of society like a chief who is also a Senator to be so stubborn against the supreme law of the land.

There appears to be a selective application of the law in Zimbabwe.

Although it is not for us to debate judgments and determinations, there seems to be an element of leniency from judiciary and law enforcement towards Chief Charumbira in comparison to other traditional leaders like Chief Ndiweni.

When he had his legal issues, law enforcement ensured he was kept on a leash, is it because they were diligent or Ndiweni`s perceived politics informed their approach.

Why is the same not being done to Charumbira?

Had a court ordered Ndiweni not to attend political events, would law enforcement have folded their hands seeing him continuing to defy a clear directive?


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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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