Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and National Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira on Friday warned Chief Murinye of Masvingo against criticising national leadership.

Chief Murinye was filmed earlier this week publicly castigating President Emmerson Mnangagwa for failing to take action against corrupt government officials around him.

In the video, Chief Murinye warned that Mnangagwa risked losing the 2023 presidential elections or being overthrown in another military-assisted transition.

The traditional leader made the remarks at the burial of top civil servant Elson Gonye, the head of the Pay and Benefits Development and Management Agency in Masvingo Province.

Speaking during a meeting between Mnangagwa and chiefs from across the country in Harare on Friday, Chiwenga said Chief Murinye’s conduct is unacceptable and should be investigated. He said:

What we have seen in the past few days is never done. Zvekuti munhu anosimuka otaura zvaanoda kuna paramount chief is never done. Zvinoitwa nemunhu anwa mutoriro. In this country it’s never done.

We have one Munhumutapa (President Mnangagwa), we have one leader and it is that leader we give respect. It is that leader we show the entire nation what respect is all about.

So, what has been done by Chief Murinye is going to be investigated by the Minister of Local Government and the chiefs’ council and if found guilty, disciplinary action would be taken.

This is Zimbabwe. I thought I should say this, I respect Munhumutapa (President Mnangagwa) and no one touches him as long as I live.

Charumbira assured Mnangagwa that Murinye’s sentiments were his personal views and did not reflect the position of the chiefs. Said Charumbira:

We are with you as the National Council of Chiefs. Chief Murinye’s utterances should be regarded as his individual view and not that of the national council of chiefs.

Meanwhile, legal expert Tawanda Mapuranga said threats against chiefs is a deliberate plan by the government to deter the traditional leaders from speaking out against corruption or criticising rogue behaviour by Chinese mining companies. Said Mapuranga:

There is nowhere in the Constitution where chiefs are prohibited from criticising the President.

Government must learn to respect criticism from whomever to promote transparency and accountability.

Government should actually stop chiefs from supporting political parties to uphold the dictates of the Constitution.

The Masvingo chief who spoke against corruption did nothing wrong. Government should actually take heed of the advice.