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Paramount Chief Khayisa Ndiweni dies

Bulawayo- One of President Robert Mugabe’s fiery critics and a proponent of the concept of federalism, Chief Khayisa Ndiweni has died. He was 97. Matabeleland North provincial administrator, Latiso Dlamini confirmed yesterday that Ndiweni died in his sleep at his Ntabazinduna family homestead Wednesday morning.

“He (Ndiweni died this morning( Wednesday}. At the moment, we are still trying to communicate the message to all relatives and relevant government structures. All other important details will be communicated later on,” said Dlamini. She said it was disheartening that Ndiweni, the paramount chief of the Ndebele people died a few days after a birthday bash was held in his honor last week.

“We were celebrating with him last week when he turned 97. It’s unfortunate that this was the last time some people saw him and chatted with him,” said Dlamini. Chief Ndiweni was one of the traditional leaders who spoke openly against Mugabe’s misrule. He assumed chieftainship in 1939.

He became unpopular with Mugabe after he criticized the 86-year old ruler’s style of governance, especially his government’s sidelining of Matabeleland and under-development of the region. At one time, he refused to meet Mugabe at a hotel in Bulawayo, and instead summoned him to his Ntabazinduna home. Mugabe was forced to drive to the late traditional leader’s homestead where the two held a one on one behind closed doors.

ZAPU interim chairman, Dumiso Dabengwa described the late chief as a man who stood by his principles. He said Chief Ndiweni was a man who believed in the empowerment of his people. He said the late paramount chief of the Ndebele people spoke openly about issues he felt should be addressed.

“He was an open man when it came to pertinent issues, especially those that involved his people. He spoke openly about some issues that some people were even afraid of addressing. That earned him the tag of being Mugabe’s opponent even at a time when he was criticizing the government of that day. People liked to associate that kind of criticism to an attack on Mugabe,” said Dabengwa.

Dabengwa said that Chief Ndiweni advocated for a federal state at the 1980 Lancaster House constitution talks. He said Ndiweni believed the concept of federalism would afford people in various provinces of the country an opportunity to effectively manage their resources. This, Dabengwa said, did not mean Ndiweni was advocating for the separation of Zimbabwe into sub-regions.

Chief Khayisa Ndiweni
Chief Khayisa Ndiweni

Chief Ndiweni recently lashed out at the co-minister of the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation, and Integration, Sekai Holland who is alleged to have accused the leader of the Ndebele, King Mzilikazi of being a violent man who led a violent mob of looters.

Chief Ndiweni is survived by 11 children, 30 grand children, 13 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild. Burial arrangements are still being made, said Dlamini. Daily News.co.zw