Minister in protest climbdown

MASVINGO North House of Assembly member Cde Davis Marapira has turned against Zanu-PF members who demonstrated against chiefs Musara and Chikwanda on Friday.He accused the party members of acting illegally.

In an interview with state media yesterday, Marapira who is also Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Deputy Minister responsible for cropping, advised protesters to seek police clearance first  before staging a demonstration to avoid breaching the law.

About 200 protesters took to the streets on Friday demonstrating against the alleged failure by chiefs Musara and Chikwanda of Masvingo to resolve their chieftainship dispute which has seen villagers observing two different resting days instead of one per week.

Eight protesters, including Ward 32 Councillor Trainos Munyenyi, who were fingered as the ringleaders, were carrying placards and toy-toying at Masvingo Central Police Station before they were arrested.

The protesters said they were confused as to who their chief was since both chiefs, Musara and Chikwanda, were giving them orders as they were involved in a border dispute.

They said whenever they failed to follow the orders each of the chiefs would make them pay beasts as punishment.

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“I had a meeting with the people from Ward 32 which forms part of my constituency. I advised them against protesting without police clearance. I also advised villagers who lost their beasts to Chief Musara to approach the courts. They’re free to seek recourse in modern courts if they feel they’re being robbed by the traditional leader. I told them that demonstrating will invite more problems than solutions to their situation,” said Cde Marapira.

He said the chieftainship wrangle between the two traditional leaders was the responsibility of the local government ministry.

“I think the Provincial Administrator Felix Chikovo and Masvingo District Administrator James Mazvidza should assist in this regard. They’re not doing much. The wrangle has been going on for long and it’s now inconveniencing villagers,” said Cde Marapira.

He however said the number of beasts demanded by Chief Musara as fine was excessive.

“I think Chief Musara is being unfair to villagers found working on the resting day, Wednesday.

“The offence normally attracts a small fine. I’ve received reports to the effect that to date Chief Musara has taken 73 beasts from villagers who violated the resting day,” he said.

When contacted for comment Chief Musara said he was happy that Cde Marapira has realised his mistake of supporting the demonstrators.

He said he hoped to work with the legislator in developing his area.

“I’m happy that Cde Marapira is acknowledging his mistake. No leader should promote lawlessness. I also want to reiterate those who who’re not happy with my decision to fine them beasts for their crimes are free to approach the courts,” said Chief Musara