The Zimbabwean government has abandoned the construction of houses for chiefs programme arguing it is not a sustainable programme.
The matter came to light last week when Chief Ephraim Chikwaka had implored the National Housing ministry to build decent houses for the traditional leaders. Said the traditional leader:
At what stage is the ministry (of Housing) in terms of constructing houses for traditional chiefs so that they can have a decent status in society?
Housing minister, Daniel Garwe, responded saying the government had observed that the construction of houses for chiefs is not a sustainable programme. He added:
Chiefs, like every Zimbabwean, look upon the government for their welfare and upkeep, but the government does not have enough resources.
It is not sustainable due to the fact that today we have Chief Ephraim Chikwaka, we build a house for him and he passes on and another chief takes over who will also want a house constructed for him.
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The government made a decision to construct traditional courts, which must be modern structures constructed within each chief’s jurisdiction.
This court will be used by chiefs for generation after generation and is a sustainable project which is the government’s position and intends to undertake.
We must understand that the government does not have resources for individuals and it will help us a lot to move forward in terms of development.
The traditional courts which are expected to have been constructed by 2021 will be for the purposes of hearing matters or disputes arising in that particular area.
Besides being paid a monthly allowance, traditional chiefs in the country have been allocated all-terrain vehicles by the government to facilitate their work in rural areas.
Since the days of the late former President Robert Mugabe, the Zanu-PF government has been showering traditional leaders with benefits and powers ranging from trucks, houses and land to the mandate to distribute food handouts in times of drought.
In return, traditional leaders played an active role as electoral ambassadors of Zanu-PF and did not object maltreatment of their subjects by forces loyal to the government during election times.
Of late, however, some traditional leaders including Chief Nhlanhla Ndiweni, have been critical of the government which they accused of infringing human rights.