“Kubva kudhara madzishe vakange vanepfuti dzavo .(It has been tradition for chiefs to possess weapons). So what there are saying now is they want those guns back for their status symbol. It is an issue of status and not only for protection during elections and we have to consider that,”Chombo told journalists in Bulawayo after a conference on water sanitation on Wednesday.
Early this year traditional chiefs demanded guns saying that they want to protect themselves from some people in the society; especially politicians whom they said have no respect for them and were constantly threatening them.
The chiefs also demanded diplomatic passports saying they are the most respected people in society, yet they travel with ordinary passport.
Chombo also blasted Finance Minister Tendai Biti for refusing to buy new cars for the traditional chiefs and stopping their monthly allowances.
“If Biti can buy new cars for MPs what can stop him from buying cars for traditional chiefs? If he can also pay soldiers, police officers and teachers what can stop from paying 264 chiefs?”
Zimbabwe traditional leaders hold largely ceremonial powers but wield immense influence in rural areas where President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) draw most of their support.
The Movement for Democratic Change formations and human rights groups accuse chiefs of using their positions to intimidate their subjects to back Zanu (PF).
In the past most rural areas, especially in Midlands and Mashonaland provinces, villagers have been summoned to appear before the chiefs’ traditional courts for refusing to participate in Zanu (PF) projects.