Letters: Chiefs’ diplomatic passports: A clear case of bribery

The call for granting diplomatic passports to traditional chiefs in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2023 elections presents both opportunities and challenges.

THE call for granting diplomatic passports to traditional chiefs in Zimbabwe has sparked debate on the sensibility and implications of such a move, particularly in the context of the upcoming 2023 elections. Chief Clemence Nembiri of Mt Darwin made this request during a workshop held by the National Council of Chiefs, arguing that traditional leaders should be treated as leaders and granted this privilege for ease of travel across borders. However, the proposal raises concerns about potential perceptions of bribery and the abuse of power among some traditional chiefs.

Traditional chiefs play a significant role in Zimbabwe’s governance and societal structure. They are recognised as custodians of our cultural heritage and are often considered as important local leaders, especially in rural communities. Their primary responsibilities include settling disputes, overseeing communal affairs, and maintaining order within their respective villages. Many chiefs enjoy deep respect and loyalty from their communities.

Chief Nembiri’s request for diplomatic passports stems from the perception that traditional chiefs are also leaders and should be granted the same privileges as other government officials. He argues that temporary leaders, such as politicians elected by the people or appointed officials, often receive diplomatic passports despite having limited terms in office. In contrast, traditional chiefs hold hereditary positions and remain in their roles throughout their lives, yet they do not enjoy the same travel privileges.

One of the main concerns surrounding the granting of diplomatic passports to traditional chiefs is the potential perception of bribery. Diplomatic passports are typically reserved for government officials and diplomats who represent the country’s interests abroad. Providing such passports to traditional chiefs could be seen as an attempt to buy their loyalty or secure their support for political purposes, especially in the lead-up to the 2023 elections. This perception could undermine the credibility of the electoral process and erode public trust in the government.

Moreover, there have been instances of abuse of power by certain traditional chiefs in Zimbabwe. Reports of corruption, misuse of authority, and failure to act impartially have marred the reputation of some traditional leaders. Granting diplomatic passports to chiefs without appropriate checks and balances might exacerbate these issues, leading to increased exploitation of power and privileges.

On the other hand, proponents argue that diplomatic passports could enhance the chiefs’ ability to engage in regional and international matters on behalf of their communities. Facilitating their travel could enable them to participate in conferences, workshops and cultural events, fostering cross-border collaboration and enhancing cultural exchanges.

Instead of automatically granting diplomatic passports to all traditional chiefs, a more prudent approach would involve assessing each individual case based on merit and necessity. Chiefs with a proven track record of promoting community development, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering regional co-operation could be considered for diplomatic passports, provided there are transparent guidelines and stringent accountability mechanisms in place.

The call for granting diplomatic passports to traditional chiefs in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2023 elections presents both opportunities and challenges. While it could enable chiefs to represent their communities on the international stage, it also raises concerns about potential perceptions of bribery and exacerbation of power abuse among some chiefs. Striking a balance that considers merit and transparency in the selection process is crucial to ensure the move, if implemented, promotes responsible leadership and benefits Zimbabwe as a whole. Ultimately, the decision rests with the relevant authorities, hence, careful consideration of all implications is essential before any action is taken.-Concerned

Why Tanzania is poised to be EA’s economic hub?

TANZANIA is using Sabasaba trade expo to foster the country’s industrial might. Across Tanzania, no exhibition can outmatch the Sabasaba trade expo, a platform that the East African country is using every year to showcase investment potential.

“Sabasaba” which translates to “seventh day” in Swahili, denotes Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) tradition of going down during the first week of July, typically starting on the 7th of the month. The expo serves as a platform for local and international businesses to showcase their products and services, fostering trade and economic development in the region.

It attracts a diverse range of exhibitors and visitors from various industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, technology, tourism and more. The Sabasaba Trade Expo has become an important event for networking, market expansion and promoting business opportunities in Tanzania as the country seeks to dethrone Kenya as East Africa’s largest economy.

Over 180 foreign companies were reportedly taking part in this year’s DITF. They include a Chinese company, a move that marks an important turning point in Tanzania-China business relations.

Standing on the theme Tanzania is your right destination for business and investments the expo which is organised by Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade) signals the country’s strong show of intent to become East Africa’s trade and investment destination.

Across the country, Sabasaba trade expo holds a sentimental value to Tanzania as it presents a unique platform for businesses gauging their capabilities against global standards while tying up international business connections.

Under the patronage of TanTrade, DITF is a crucial stage for Tanzania and the rest of the region in showcasing talent and capabilities in trade.

Over the past years, the government of Tanzania via TanTrade has been making Sabasaba the best platform for traders through several upgrades.

The fair chairperson Athumani Makole says the expo is getting an international look and feel. The latter includes providing identification cards (IDs) to all traders at the market, catering for uniforms to all cart drivers to ensure smooth execution of operations.

Amid other trade fairs exposing the vast potential the region exhibits, such as Kenya International Trade Exhibition, Lagos International Trade Fair and Intra-African Trade Fair, Tanzania holds the potential to perform better.-Further Africa


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