Mugabe dragged into chieftaincy row

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been dragged into a raging chieftaincy row, including accusations that he acted on false information from a Cabinet minister as well as ignoring High Court orders.

Far left over Terence Ranger’s shoulder with face partially obscured: Mutumba Mainga Bull (then student at University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (UCRN now U. Zimbabwe) and then later Minister of Health, Zambia.
Left to right: Mutumba Mainga, T. O. Ranger, Shelagh Ranger, Axel Sommerfeld (face obscured, Norwegian anthropologist lecturer at UCRN), Joshua Nkomo, James Chikerema, Robert Mugabe, and John Reed (Lecturer in English at UCRN).

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

In a letter written by his lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni to Mugabe, dated June 6, William Matumbike, a claimant to the Ndanga chieftaincy in Masvingo’s Zaka district, accuses Rural Development minister Abednico Ncube and the area’s district administrator of acting illegally.

“Our client advises that he was duly nominated by his local community in terms of the customs of usages of the Ndanga people in Zaka for consideration by His Excellency for the position of Chief of the Ndanga people,” the letter read.

“This nomination was confirmed by the High Court, which directed the then Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister to forward our client’s name to His Excellency for appointment as a chief.”

However, Mugabe, according to the letter, a copy of which NewsDay has in its possession, appointed William Makono as substantive chief for the Ndanga people on December 6, 2016, “in a manner that is unconstitutional, illegal and in total disregard of the court orders as well as in violation of the traditions and will of the Ndanga people”.

According to the letter, Chief Ndanga Chatinda passed away in June 2008 and his son, Simon Charinda, took over as the acting chief up to December 6, 2016.

The traditional selection process was duly followed between 2010 and 2011.

Matumbike was subsequently asked by the then district administrator for Zaka, a Mubako, as the chosen candidate to pay the “samagadza (installer) his zvirigo (dues) in the form of nine head of cattle”.

Matumbike, according to his lawyers, was vetted by the authorities, including the police, but the process then stalled in 2011.

“When our client inquired with the current district administrator for Zaka on the status of his appointment as Chief Ndanga, he was informally informed that the whole process was going to be restarted because of some irregularities in the selection process,” the letter read, triggering a legal battle that continues to this day.

Ncube, the minister in charge of traditional leaders, also unsuccessfully tried to overturn the High Court orders.

To make matters worse, Mugabe, according to the letter, also ignored a letter from the Attorney-General’s Office confirming Matumbike as substantive chief.

But Matumbike absolved the President.

“Disobeying court orders and acting contrary to the customs and usages of the Ndanga people in Zaka would be clearly inconsistent with the behaviour expected of His Excellency in terms of the Zimbabwean Constitution,” wrote the lawyers, adding Ncube seemed bent on setting up Mugabe against the Ndanga people.

Matumbike further argues that Ncube and other officials fed Mugabe with wrong information, leading to Makono’s nomination as chief of the Ndanga people.

“In the premises, our client avers that Mr William Makono’s nomination by the district administrator and the Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage minister as Chief Ndanga and his subsequent appointment by Your Excellency was unlawful, irregular and ought to be set aside,” Matumbike said.

In his application, Matumbike wants Mugabe to institute an investigation into the matter and set aside Makono’s appointment.-Newsday

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