Traditional leaders act as custodians and stewards of their communities and ensure that there is peaceful resolution to disputes that take place in communities. Traditional Leaders play an important role in the promotion and upholding of human rights in their respective communities. This plays a key role in the facilitation of development in their communities. The constitution forbids Traditional leaders from being members of any political party as this will greatly compromise the discharge of their duties such as resolving disputes amongst people in their communities.
In recent years, the Traditional leadership institution has become compromised due to infiltration by political parties who have used the institution for political expediency and gain. However, the constitution of Zimbabwe in Chapter 15 .2 states that Traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics. During a Traditional Leaders Capacity building workshop conducted by Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) in partnership with Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET), Traditional leaders from Gokwe-Nembudzia Mhumha Ward 36 lamented that they are not aware of the constitutional provision hence they attend political gatherings and sometimes do so against their wish. They indicated that more information education should be done on traditional leaders particularly those in remote parts of the country. Traditional leaders who attended this particular workshop told Heal Zimbabwe that they were just shown a copy of the constitution at one of the meetings they held with the Headman who indicated that Chapter 15 talks about them but never got an opportunity to have anyone explaining the provisions to them.
The workshop was attended by 19 Traditional leaders (1 woman and 18 men) mainly Village heads. The objectives of the workshop were to raise awareness and educate them on the roles and responsibilities of traditional leaders as enshrined in chapter 15 of the constitution as well as raising awareness on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).
One major highlight during the workshop was that most Traditional leaders cited lack of information as one of the challenges affecting their work especially lack of knowledge regarding the provisions of the Constitution particularly on human rights and Traditional leadership. They however acknowledged the Heal Zimbabwe Community newsletters’ role in disseminating information that relates to their work in their communities.
After the workshop, Traditional leaders came up with a work plan where they would initiate several activities in their communities that seek to build social cohesion and build peace. Some of these activities include encouraging traditional practices such as collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) and community dialogues. The traditional leader’s capacity building workshops are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s initiative to build resilient and united communities for the prevalence of peace and development.