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Zanupf meddless in Churumhanzu chieftainship wrangles

The ongoing battle for the Chirumanzu chieftainship throne following the death of the late Chief Jerald Mudzengi in February 2019 has exposed the interference of the ruling party in traditional succession issues for political expediency and other personal reasons, Gweru Gazette can report.

The succession dispute follows unsuccessful efforts by the Chirumanzu chieftainship elders to rope in the help of the provincial and national chiefs councils as well as Local Government minister July Moyo to help end the stalemate.

Documents in possession of this publication reveal that the elders wrote to the Midlands provincial chiefs council on May 31, national chiefs council president Fortune Charumbira on June 10 and minister Moyo on June 25 and all correspondences have not been responded to.

One of the chieftainship elders who spoke  on condition of anonymity said it was baffling that despite there being a clear succession plan for Chirumanzu, government and traditional chiefs council officials had chosen to remain “mum over the issue.”

“It raises eyebrows why there is dead silence when families involved in the cheiftainship are clear on the succession plan,”said the traditional elder.

According to the family tree one Julius Chimbi Chigegwe is supposed to be appointed substantive Chief but the acting Chief Fidelis Mudzengi, son to the late Chief is allegedly holding on to the throne and refusing to hand over power.

According to minutes of meetings held last year at Chizhou in Chirumanzu, and attended by Mudzengi, district development coordinator Hlavati and representatives of the 11 sub-houses to the chieftainship, there was an agreement that it was the turn of the Chigegwe house to take over the throne at the expiry of the acting chief’s term in February this year.

The minutes show that Mudzengi even signed documents on October 30 last year agreeing to leave office at the expiry of his acting chief role on February 5 this year.

On November 4 last year, Mudzengi even wrote to the district development coordinating office advising of the nomination of Chigegwe as the next substantive Chief.

Things however took a different direction when the chieftainship elders on May 31 wrote to the provincial chiefs council seeking audience on the delay in appointing a substantive chief.

Although on June 1, the elders got an appointment to meet the provincial chiefs council, the following day (June 2) the elders received a call from one acting DDC, Murove advising them to cancel the meeting. On June 4 members of the provincial chiefs council failed to attend the meeting without giving any reason.

This according to the documents, prompted 24 representatives of the 11 sub-houses who are heirs to the Chirumanzu chieftainship to visit the office of the Midlands provincial development coordinator, Abiot Marongwe to enquire the “non attendance of provincial chiefs council members” on the scheduled meeting.

The chieftainship elders did not get an satisfactory response but instead on June 10 a letter was written to the PDC by one F.A Chikovo, director, traditional leadership support services department advising him (PDC) that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had approved appointment of Mudzengi as acting chief despite him (Mudzengi) acting in that capacity since the death of his father in February 2019.

“Please be advised that his excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe has in terms of section 283(a)(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe amendment no 20 Act of 2013 as read with section 4(1) of the Traditional Leaders Act, (chapter 27:17) approved the appointment of Fidelis Mudzengi as acting Chief Chirumanzu of Mvuma district in Midlands province with effect from May 15 2021. Kindly facilitate the payment of his monthly allowance,”wrote Chikovo.

In another surprise notice flighted recently on social media platforms well known Chirumanzu Zanu PF activist who once contested in the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency ruling party primaries appeared to be doing the bidding for Mudzengi when he supported the acting chief.

“There has been various mischievous articles being flighted in the print and social media space concerning the Chirumanzu chieftainship. The information being peddled is grossly misleading hence suggesting that there is a wrangle over the Chirumanzu chieftainship. Whoever is fronting to deny our constitutionally nominated acting chief Fidelis Mudzengi is against the people, the government and our President HE Mnangagwa,”wrote Rwodzi.

Ironically Rwodzi is not part of the chieftainship family despite wading into the dispute.

Efforts to get comment from both deputy and national chiefs president Chief Senator Ngungumbane and Charumbira respectively could not yield anything as they said they do not discuss traditional leadership issues in the press.

But speaking recently in parliament Local Government deputy minister Marian Chombo said government was not involved in the selection of chiefs.

“As a ministry we do not have a mandate to pick chiefs and we are not involved in terms of who should become chief,”she said.

She said the provincial chiefs council and chieftainship elders sit as a electoral college and ensure proper procedures are followed before submitting the name of the person who will succeed as substantive chief.

But according to the Chirumanzu chieftainship elders it is that procedure which is failing to be adhered to.

The elders said after petitioning Moyo over the issue on June 25 and getting no response they will “now approach the High Court” over the issue.

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