Main Article Content
This article explores the prospects and challenges of traditional leaders combating the Covid-19 novel virus in vulnerable rural communities of Zimbabwe. The potential of traditional leadership in combating the pandemic is yet to be widely explored despite traditional leadership being a key institution in rural development. Extant grey and white literature and key informant interviews were largely relied on to gather data for this study. As custodians and enforcers of traditional customs and values, endogenous leaders are widely relied on and respected in rural communities such that their encouragements, orders and coercive interventions can positively combat the deadly coronavirus. With the fear for punishment in the form of cursing or being ostracized, ruralites often listen to and abide by traditional leaders’ calls and pleas to stay at home, practice personal hygiene and observe social distancing. Based on these cutting edge advantages, chiefs and their decentralized structures can play a key role in community mobilization, raising awareness, dispelling pandemic rumours and myths, vaccine utilization and pushing for compromises where measures are incompatible with local traditions, cultural values and norms. The article vouches for the resourcing and capacitation of traditional leaders to effectively realize their capacities in combating COVID-19 and future pandemics.