Political activists in Bulawayo, Friday, held a solidarity march in support of the under-fire Ntabazinduna Chief Felix Ndiweni who is currently locked in a standoff with some government officials over his perceived anti-government stance.
The protest under the banner “I stand with chief Ndiweni #Hands off our traditional leaders” was held at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo statue, which has become the site for most political protests in the city.
The protests were triggered by an attempt by some yet to be identified people who accosted the traditional leader on Wednesday and allegedly tried to grab his government-issued vehicle.
In desperation, Chief Ndiweni sprinkled fuel all over the vehicle threatening to set it alight if his assailants proceeded with their plan to forcefully dispossess him of the vehicle.
This comes after the outspoken traditional leader clashed with the Zanu PF after resisting attempts by the government to evict a white commercial farmer, Brian Davies from Tabas Induna Farm.
With the permission of the late Chief Khayisa Ndiweni, the Davies/Parsons family built Chiefs Lodge in 1992 on the top of Ntabazinduna Hill, a famous historical site that is revered by the community.
Chief Ndiweni has also been vocal about the Gukurahundi atrocities calling government to address the issue.
The Friday protest attracted a little crowd while the police came out in full force in anticipation of a big turnout for the protest.
Addressing the small crowd, political activist Josphat Mzaca, said they were moved by the ill-treatment given to Chief Ndiweni after pointing out economic ills in the country.
“The Chief’s cause for fighting is very clear. The president, Mnangagwa, should protect and respect these leaders instead of having them harassed like this. The only reason why the chief is under such attack is that he pointed out the ills in the society and the economy,” said Mzaca.
The other speakers who gave solidarity messages reiterated that Chief Ndiweni’s attacks were a retaliation to his stance against corruption in government.
Mthulisi Hanana of the Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation Trust said Chief Ndiweni is being persecuted for speaking out and challenging the ills committed by the government.
“He is fighting for our rights. He is suffering because he is speaking against corruption. All the Ndebele people need to unite and rally behind the chief in his quest to defend Ntabazinduna hill. As the youth we are going to stand our ground and support Chief Ndiweni,” said Hanana.
A representative from 1893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement said taking over the Ntabazinduna mountain was an attempt to distort the Ndebele history and culture.
“What the government of Zimbabwe is doing to Mthwakazi is unfair, it is a violation of human rights. The government is violating our right to conserve our culture and inheritance. Taking over this mountain will distort our culture and history for our future generations, how will they learn about their culture when they have nothing to show for it,” she said.