Heal Zimbabwe notes with concern the conduct of Village Heads in Zaka West ahead of the Heroes day celebrations to be held on the 10th of August 2015.
On 5 August 2015, Village Head Cleto Vhudzi, who also doubles as a ZANU PF elected Councillor, told villagers in Ward 24 that every household is obliged to pay $1 towards the Provincial Heroes Day Commemorations. The traditional leader threatened that if people fail to pay the money voluntarily, ZANU PF youths would move around households collecting the money themselves. He also warned villagers against not paying because he will keep a register of those who would have paid and use it during the distribution of any food aid or farming inputs.
The intimidation by Village Head Vhudzi is a direct violation of people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms which carry rights such as right to personal security and equality. Section 281 of the Constitution stipulates that Traditional leaders should not violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.
Zaka is not the only area where Traditional leaders are demanding money for Heroes celebration in their area. In Makoni District, some Village Heads are alleging that Manicaland Provincial Minister, Mandi Chimene issued a directive to Chiefs in the area to inform their Village Heads that they should contribute money towards the Heroes Day celebrations which will be held at Vhengere stadium in Rusape. Similar incidents have also been recorded in Mbire and Murehwa.
It is worrying that the demand for money for Heroes Day celebrations comes against a backdrop of a harsh economic environment which has exacerbated the cost of living and is compounded by alarming rates of unemployment.
Heal Zimbabwe implores Traditional leaders to fulfil and uphold their constitutional mandate of treating all persons within their areas equally and fairly. They should also be conduits for the propagation of peace by resolving disputes amongst people in their communities so as to attain peace. Peaceful communities bring development.
Peace begins with you, Peace begins with me, and Peace begins with all of us.