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Court bid to halt Ndiweni chief installation

By Thulani Ndlovu

The wrangle over the Ndebele chieftaincy that was left vacant following the death of Chief Khayisa Ndiweni in 2010 continues to divide the Ndiweni family after the eldest son filed summons at the High Court on Friday last week to annul the appointment of the youngest son to the chieftaincy.

The late Chief Khayisa Ndiweni
The late Chief Khayisa Ndiweni

In a rare twist of events, Chief Ndiweni’s widow, Agnes, crossed swords with her first and second born sons, Jorum and Douglas, when she convinced the Government to install her last born son, Nhlanhla as chief.

During the time when Agnes recommended Nhlanhla to the position of chief, both Nhlanhla and Jorum were based in England. Jorum is a veterinary doctor while Nhlanhla is an engineer. According to a close family member, Nhlanhla arrived from England last week to assume the position of chief.

Last month, in an affidavit deposed and exclusively obtained by Sunday News, Agnes alleged that Jorum “will never make a chief that the people of Ntabazinduna deserve” because of “various other deeper stuff that make him not to be the chief”.

But in High Court summons Jorum asked the High Court to set aside and declare null and void the appointment of Nhlanhla as substantive Chief Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna by the three defendants, District Administrator of Umguza, Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Dr Ignatius Chombo and the President Mugabe, paving the way for him to be appointed as an heir apparent.

Jorum alleges that the three defendants did not follow Section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act in appointing Nhlanhla.

Section 3 provides that in appointing a chief the President is obliged to give consideration to the prevailing principles of succession applicable to the community where the chief will preside and to the administrative needs of the communities in the area concerned in the interest of good governance.

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“An order is sought that DA and Minister of Local Government ensure compliance with Section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act in the choice of a substantive Chief Ndiweni for Umguza District, Ntabazinduna within 90 days of granting the order,” reads part of the summons. “Failing which the plaintiff being the eldest son of the late Chief Kayisa Ndiweni be and is hereby declared as such under the Traditional Leaders Act and Nguni customs, practices and norms.”

Further, through court summons Jorum describes the appointment of his younger brother Nhlanhla as “bogus” and “abominable” and said the DA acted on the wrong information from his mother, unnamed sister and “questionable relatives” in consultation with friends. Nhlanhla is the 11th child in a family of 12 among Chief Khayisa Ndiweni’s children.

“Nhlanhla is a tainted choice and his appointment is unlawful and unprecedented. The Ndiweni family is of Nguni or Ndebele origin and content. The plaintiff is the eldest son to the late Chief Kayisa Ndiweni,” said Jorum.

He added that he was married with elderly children with his eldest son Mhlambezi Ndiweni aged 27. “No lawful impediment exists against my appointment, failing, which my eldest son Mhlambezi who is alive and a fit and a proper person should assume chieftainship.”

Furthermore, Jorum described the appointment of Nhlanhla as “anti-people” motivated by malice, greed, and personal issues outside the provisions of the law.

He said despite correspondence by him to the defendants to correct the “abomination” the purported appointment of Nhlanhla had not been overturned.

However, in an interview with Sunday News last month, Mama Agnes said she was following the orders of Chief Khayisa Ndiweni by installing Nhlanhla as chief.

However, in an interesting turn of events, cultural commentators and historians argued that the late chief, whose chieftaincy they said was never paramount, could not select his heir alone.

Historian Mr Pathisa Nyathi, said being a chief was never through an elective process but it was hereditary.

“For a start there is no such thing as a paramount chief for Matabeleland, all is a myth and creation of a people who are not au feit with the traditional institution; what we have are chiefs all of equal standing. During the heyday of the Ndebele state, there was indunankulu, chief of chiefs and under King Mzilikazi it was Gwabalanda Mathe who was in charge of Amhlophe, in Lobengula’s time the post was filled by Magwegwe Fuyana.

“Further, we should know and recognise the simple fact that chieftainship is a hereditary institution and succession therein is never through election, no chief ascends the chieftainship seat through an elective process,” said Mr Nyathi.

Chief Ndiweni once served as the country’s Acting President for 13 days when then President Canaan Banana was out of the country in 1981. The chief was a direct descendant of Gundwane Ndiweni, the first Ndebele paramount chief who led a Nguni group separate to that of King Mzilikazi into Zimbabwe in 1838. Sunday News