Outspoken Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa (Independent) has criticised Vice President Constantino Chiwenga for threatening to discipline a traditional leader for speaking his mind.
Chief Murinye of Masvingo ruffled Chiwenga’s feathers after he last weekend after warning President Emmerson Mnangagwa of a possible coup if he failed to deal with worsening corruption.
During his address at the funeral of a top civil servant in Masvingo last week, Chief Murinye urged Mnangagwa to act on high-level corruption in government and ZANU PF or the military would intervene.
Addressing the annual Chief’s Conference that was presided over by Mnangagwa in Harare on Friday, Chiwenga said chiefs should follow proper government procedures if aggrieved on any issue. He said:
That a chief just stands up and says what they want is never done, do you understand me Chiefs?
That is only done by those who drink Mutoriro (illicit brew), in this country, it is never done. We have one Monomutapa (Mnangagwa).
We have one leader and it is that leader we give our respect to, it is that leader we show the entire nation what respect is all about.
… This is the Republic of Zimbabwe, that is not done. Such foolishness is not done, I hope you understand me. What did I just say?
Posting on Twitter, Mliswa said the country’s leaders should listen to people and not threaten them. He said:
News that VP Chiwenga threatened Chief Murinye is wrong and disturbing on every level.
This is exactly how Mugabe operated, threatening all those who had divergent views.
Leadership should listen to people and not threaten them. We are all under Chiefs. Politicians are not the owners of the country.
There is freedom of expression which the Chiefs can also exercise and they speak on behalf of the people. They can’t be threatened over that.
The former ZANU PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman said the ruling party dragged traditional leaders into politics and should not cry foul now that they are critical of the government. He said:
Chiefs were independent and apolitical but ZANU PF got them involved in politics yet when they press a divergent button you attack them.
You dragged them into politics so accept all versions of that involvement. We can’t be a country where people are afraid of expressing their views.
We don’t have to continue intimidating people. We can’t be a country known for abusing its people.
Mliswa expressed disappointment over Chiwenga’s remarks saying inasmuch as the former army commander sacrificed for the country’s liberation, this is not how things should be done.