President Emmerson Mnangagwa has removed Felix Nhlanhlayamagwe Ndiweni as substantive chief Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna following recommendations from the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs.
In November, Chiefs from Matabeleland North met and resolved that due to a row over Chief Khayisa Ndiweni’s succession where his eldest brother, Joram Khayisa Thambo, filed an urgent application seeking the nullification of his youngest brother’s appointment as the chief.
But the community of Ntabazinduna insisted that time and have said now that Chief Ndiweni stays put.
In a letter dated December 12, written by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Zvinechimwe Churu, and addressed to the chairperson of the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs and the acting Provincial Development Coordinator, says the President Mnangagwa had relieved Chief Ndiweni of his duties as the traditional leader.
“In line with provisions of section 283 (ii) of the Constitution and Subsection 2(a) of Section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act Chapter 29:17 removed Chief Ndiweni from office of the Chief Ndiweni in Umguza District of Matabeleland North with effect from November 30, 2019,” read the letter that was also undersigned by the local government minister, President of Chiefs’ Council and Director Finance and Administration.
The Matabeleland North Province was thus directed to officially advise Chief Ndiweni, as well as stop payment of his allowance, vehicle and prepare to retrieve all his chief regalia.
“Cause the DDC for Umguza to recover the government allocated vehicle, all chiefs regalia and any other state asset in his custody with the assistance of the ZRP if need be,” read the letter.
The province was also instructed to liaise with the Ndiweni clan to select a candidate for appointment as substantive Chief Ndiweni.
“In terms of Section 283 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Section 3(2) (1) of the Traditional Leaders Act Chapter 29: 17. Be advised accordingly,” said Churu.
Chief Ndiweni became the substantive traditional leader of Ntabazinduna since June 2014 and since then has been liberal, confronting the government for misgovernance and human rights abuses, refusing to yield to pressure from the chiefs’ council.
Observers have said that due to his radical views, the state has taken Chief Ndiweni to be an enemy.
However, the Ntabazandinua community, Ndiweni Elders and Inkosi’s Advisory Counsel, Village Headmen and Faith Groups have since issued a statement defending the appointment of Felix Nhlanhlayamngwe as the substantive chief.
Ntabazinduna community met on November 27, 2019, at the Large Hall of Ntabazinduna where they discussed how the late Chief Khayisa who ruled for 71 years would not fail to appoint a successor he saw fit, noting that Chief Ndiweni was the chosen one.
“It is completely illogical for one to think the matter of the succession in the Ndiweni Clan of Ntabazinduna, would be left to chance. No one is in office for 71 years and then does not complete the most important responsibility they have, which is their succession. The bloodline. For this is the only job in the world, whereby one qualifies by their bloodline,” said the community.
“Hence, we as a community are deeply proud about our Royal House, The Ndiweni Clan of Ntabazinduna.”
The community said there was a sinister political ploy to unseat Chief Ndiweni.
“We can no longer keep quiet, whilst falsehoods are being spoken as if they were the truth. At the heart of this matter is a political agenda, which we will never accept, irrespective from whatever quarter it comes from and in this regard, we have the support of the nation,” said the community.
“Political corruption has invaded many institutions in our country. With regret, the institution of Traditional Leaders is no exception to this. It is for this reason that we Ndiweni Elders, Elders in the community, faith groups and the community of Ntabazinduna have taken an unprecedented step to speak for our Royal House, the Ndiweni Clan of Ntabazinduna.
“The open political challenge to our Royal House, emanating from Douglas Ndiweni, Obert Mpofu, the local Zanu PF and The Matabeleland North Chiefs Assembly, must be exposed and nullified once and for all.”
The community said even though Chief Ndiweni could speak on his own, the community and elders will speak on his behalf and through their actions, their support for him would be evident.
“Inkosi Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni has taken our advice, not to directly get involved in this ugly matter that seeks only to tarnish the honourable legacy of the late Paramount Chief K. Ndiweni. We advised him that custom and tradition, does not allow him to have a direct voice, with regard to the throne. Elders of the Clan will speak on his behalf. Hence, no one has ever heard him speak about this matter,” they said, noting that such as his late father, Chief Khayisa, Chief Ndiweni represented the communities and spoke the truth.
“He fights tooth and nail for all peoples, vulnerable people, irrespective from where they come from, for the voiceless, for the downtrodden, for the frail and for the helpless. He is a strong believer in the principles of democracy and good governance.”
The Ntabazinduna community said because of Chief Ndiweni’s boldness and principles, he had crafted out a new identity for Chiefs, that is supported and accepted by the public.
“He is now the peoples Chief. It does not matter what the government of the day chooses to do, that will simply remain so,” the community vowed.