Minister taken to court over chieftainship row

July Moyo

A CLAIMANT to the Neromwe Chieftainship in Chiredzi District has taken Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo to court challenging the recent installation of his rival to the throne.

Mr Victor Chirhomo, who is a self-actor, wants an order nullifying the appointment of his rival Mr Clement Madzingo as Chief Neromwe, arguing that his appointment was unlawful.

Mr Chirhomo, who belongs to the rival Mahike clan, has filed a court application at the Bulawayo High Court, citing Minister Moyo, Chief Neromwe (Mr Madzingo), Senator Chief Chitanga (Mr Feleni Chauke), Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira, the Attorney-General Prince Machaya and President Mnangagwa, as respondents.

He said the appointment of Mr Madzingo as substantive Chief Neromwe, in his consequence of a purported resuscitation of the Neromwe Chieftainship should be declared null and void. 

The Government, three months ago, officially installed Chief Neromwe in Chiredzi after the chieftainship was abolished over a 100 years ago by the colonial white minority regime. In his founding affidavit, Mr Chirhomo said Minister Moyo’s recommendation to President Mnangagwa for the appointment of Mr Madzingo as Chief Neromwe should be revoked.

He argued that all the processes that led to the recommendation for the resuscitation of the Neromwe chieftainship were fundamentally flawed.

“My standing derives from section 85 of the constitution of Zimbabwe which provides that any person is entitled to approach the court in their own interest, or acting in the interest of a group or class of persons or in the public interest,” he said. 

Mr Chirhomo said the decision to resuscitate the Neromwe chieftainship is a breach of the elementary tenets of fair and natural justice, arguing that his voice was not heard in the matter affecting his interests.

He argued that the Traditional Leaders Act does not provide for the resuscitation and creation of chieftainships.

“My legal practitioners advise me that the Traditional Leaders Act has still not been amended to provide for the resuscitation and creation of chieftainship. The second respondent (Mr Madzingo) was appointed Chief Neromwe in July 2018 following the recommendations by the first respondent (Minister Moyo) to the President, a recommendation the President acceded to. The second respondent was appointed consequent to a resuscitation which the Traditional Leaders Act does not provide for,” he said.

Mr Chirhomo said the area under whose jurisdiction Chief Neromwe falls is a resettlement area, which under the traditional leadership cannot be legally exercised.

“The process by which a resettlement area is emplaced under the traditional leadership is set out in section 29 of the Traditional Leadership Act. The Act provides that after consultation with the rural district council and chief of the area concerned, the Minister may by Gazette declare that any area of resettlement land shall fall under the authority of such chief as he may specify in the notice,” he said.

Mr Chirhomo argued that the disputed area falls under Chief Tshovani. “I did route the Mahike chieftainship claim through Chief Tshovani and there has been contacts with the Ministry since then. The last contact was when we met the Permanent Secretary, George Mlilo in 2015 and our understanding was that the matter was being looked into,” he said.

“I am part of the Mahike clan and we are part of the Tshovani clan because Tshovani had three sons, Mahike, Muteo and Magatse, each to whom he gave chieftainship.”

Mr Chirhomo said the Minister acted in a manner which is discriminatory by according Mr Madzingo an advantage over the Mahike clan who had also applied for the resuscitation of their chieftainship. 

He argued that the Traditional Leaders Act has not yet been aligned to the constitution and therefore it does not, in its current form, provide for the resuscitation of chieftainships.

In terms of Section 283 of the Constitution, the President appoints chiefs on recommendations of the provincial assembly of chiefs through the National Council of Chiefs and the Minister responsible for traditional leaders in accordance with the traditional practices and traditions of communities concerned. — Chronicle