Support continues to pour in for the outspoken Matabeleland chief, Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, who has come under attack from the state and the ruling Zanu PF party over his stance on protecting his people’s heritage in Ntabazinduna and his views on the Gukurahundi atrocities.
The current chief took over the reins from his father, the late paramount Chief Khayisa Ndiweni who also had similar run ins with the government during his reign.
In response, various people have come out in defence of the traditional leader saying the state’s treatment and contempt of the chief was disrespectful and brought resentment.
Online platforms were awash with ‘I stand with Chief Ndiweni’ images since news of his attack by alleged central intelligence officers (CIOs) and Zanu PF youths in Bulawayo broke out yesterday.
The assault on Chief Ndiweni comes after he publicly called for an extension of sanctions on the government for failing to adhere to reforms and attempts to illegally seize land in Ntabazinduna Mountain.
Ntabazinduna Mountain is regarded as sacred by the Ndebele people due to its historical significance.
It is where founder of the Ndebele nation, King Mzilikazi Khumalo, settled after he left the Pretoria area in South Africa as a result of pressure from Zulu King Dingane, King Shaka’s replacement.
According to Ndebele history, Mzilikazi had earlier left Zululand over differences with King Shaka over cattle raided from the Sotho people who lived in today’s Lesotho mountainous country.
Chief Ndiweni said since efforts to engage authorities over Ntabazinduna Mountain had failed, he would lead the charge to protect the territory this coming May 18 in Ntabazinduna.
After this was announced, Deputy Defence Minister Victor Matemadanda, also the secretary general of the War Veterans’ Association, said chief Ndiweni was a “national security threat” for his constant criticism of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and was “starting a fire that he is not going to be able to quench.”
Observers said the chief was right to fight for his people’s heritage.
“I believe the calls that he should step down because he is partisan by Zanu PF’s Richard Moyo represents the worst ignorance ever in Zimbabwean and Matabeleland politics. Chief Charumbira has said chiefs will stand with Zanu PF, but no one is challenging him to step down and join a political party!
“I think for a moment, Moyo there, donated his brains to science. It is people who lack an appreciation of the history of the Ndiweni chieftainship in Ntabazinduna, how it has always been a radical chieftainship, who are surprised by what the current chief is doing. He knows he is filling very big shoes and has to rise to the occasion,” argued Critical Studies scholar Khanyile Mlotshwa.
The Royal Crown Council also condemned the physical attack on Chief Ndiweni and the accompanying attempt to unlawfully take his government issued vehicle from him.
“This attack constitutes a serious attack on the institution of traditional leaders as a whole and of the rule of law and constitutional democratic order which anchors our governance institutions. The state has a constitutional obligation to protect the physical integrity and person of Chief Ndiweni and his property from any potential threats,” it said in a statement.
The royal council also called upon government to urgently launch a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack and prosecute all those involved.
Meanwhile, political parties have also lent their support saying the events of the past week have brought out a “chilling” aspect of state capture.
“The sustained attacks on the person and office of the Ndiweni Chieftainship have brought to the fore just how vindictive Zanu PF is if you do not toe their line. It is no secret that Zanu PF through the Government has captured most chiefs and village heads through their tried and tested method of patronage and handouts,” said ZAPU’s information department.
ZAPU noted that the Ndiweni Chieftainship has often given the Zanu PF government headaches.
“The incumbent does not need to sing for his supper. The chief is assured of his birthright according to tradition and culture, he is even more assured of his role as a traditional leader of the Mangwe Clans and his rights as a citizen of this country. He has also given hope to other Ndebele Chiefs who had been cowed into silence by the state,” noted the party.
Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) claimed its leader had assigned the security department and the intelligence department to deal with who had attempted to terrorise Chief Ndiweni.
“Chief Ndiweni was attacked only a few minutes after he and I had met outside Tredgold Magistrate Court and the information we have is Zanu PF moroons wanted to confiscate the vehicle that was given to the Chief claiming it’s a party vehicle and threatened him on his recent remarks he made in calling for increased sanctions against the Mnangangwa led government which continues to chase shadows in fixing the economy,” said president Mqondisi Moyo.
He added that the party’s legal team led by Dumisani Dube was handling the matter.