President Emmerson Mnangagwa has defended his administration’s decision to hand over 226 cars to traditional chiefs. The president and his Zanu-PF party have been accused of vote buying by the opposition as the donation comes a few months before the 2018 harmonised elections. However, Mnangagwa defended himself saying that the chiefs were entitled to the vehicles as part of their service benefits. Mnangagwa also argued that the cars were bought under the administration of former president Robert Mugabe.
Said Mnangagwa on Facebook:
…chiefs are the leaders of our communities throughout the country. It is necessary for them to be able to move in their communities in which they provide guidance and leadership in terms of our traditions. For that reason, it is important that we facilitate that disbursement.
In an interview with Alec Russell of the Financial Times, Mnangagwa said:
The chiefs are on the government payroll. One of their conditions of service is to give them motor vehicles. Whether there’s an election or there’s no election we’ll still give them the motor vehicles and their salary or allowance, whatever.
This was done by the former administration, except that they had not been given so I’ve gone ahead to give them. In fact, the later vehicles I’ve given have not been bought by this administration; they were bought by the former administration. It has nothing to do with vote-buying and so on; it’s a part of the conditions of service of those chiefs.