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The Role of Traditional Leaders in Fostering Democracy, Justice and Human Rights in Zimbabwe

T Makahamadze
N Grand
B Tavuyanago


This article examines the role of chiefs in fostering democracy, human rights and peace in Zimbabwe. It argues that in the precolonial era, chiefs had knowledge of grassroots democracy as they made consultations with their council machinery before taking any decision. It also argues that the pre-colonial chiefs were custodians of peace and human rights. Human life was viewed as sacred and annoyance of innocent people would evoke punishment from the ancestors. With the introduction of salaries and new
administrative policies, the office of chieftaincy was compromised in both the colonial and post-colonial periods. Chiefs lost most of their powers and, therefore, lost control of their people. This article argues that chiefs can however use their position, influence and power to transform Zimbabwe into a democratic, lawful and peaceful nation. It invites the current chiefs to borrow a leaf from their counterparts in the pre-colonial era who were guided by democratic principles in their deliberations, who respected the laws of their chiefdoms and ensured that subjects under their jurisdiction
were given fair treatment.

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eISSN: 1024-0969