Chiefs are lobbying government to urgently change the nomenclature of traditional leaders’ titles from chiefs to kings.
Chief Zvimba, born Stanley Urayayi Mhondoro, is leading the lobby.
He gained prominence earlier this year after decreeing the exhumation and reburial of late former president Robert Mugabe from his rural home in Zvimba to a site at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
Speaking at an interactive meeting between traditional leaders and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) officers at Inkomo Barracks in Nyabira at the weekend, Chief Zvimba said the title chief compromised their standing and onerous responsibility in society.
He said some posts such as those of top company executives and engineers were prefixed with the word chief, which belittles their office and status.
Mhondoro, who was speaking in Shona, said: “Chieftainship speaks to royalty. We don’t like to be equated with chief executives and chief engineers, we are not different but what separates us is the work we do and the trajectory we traverse to be installed. One doesn’t go to school to become a chief, neither is there promotion but it comes with central lineage.”
He appealed to Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Chief of Staff (Quartermaster Staff) major-general Hlanganani Dube to relay the message to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to immediately action the demand to alter the title.
“Kindly pass on this request to His Excellency (Mnangagwa) that chiefs from Mashonaland West, represented by Chief Zvimba, no longer want to be addressed as chiefs.
“King George and Queen Elizabeth are not addressed as chiefs because they are royals. Historically there were kings, therefore it’s better to say Mambo (King) Zvimba or Mambo Chundu because saying chief does not befit our lofty status and image,” he said.
“We have refused to be called chiefs, we don’t want it. There is urgent need to look for another title as the current one puts us in the wrong perspective, it gives us false personal,” he added.
The annual luncheon between chiefs and the army generals is aimed at cementing civil-military relations, thereby vindicating assertions by observers who doubt the impartiality of both traditional leaders and soldiers, seen as defacto commissars of the ruling Zanu PF party.