BULAWAYO – Outspoken Ntabazinduna traditional leader Chief Nhlanhla Ndiweni has asked police to investigate after men claiming to be from the “President’s Office” accompanied by known Zanu PF activists tried to grab his official vehicle on Wednesday.
Chief Ndiweni had just stepped out of the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Courts at about 11.30AM when he says he was confronted by about six men who were standing next to the driver’s door of his Isuzu truck.
“They don’t produce identification, they don’t want me to know who they are. All they say is we need to take car keys from you. Then when I turn around, I see some Zanu PF people I know. One of the men says we have come from the President’s Office, and I said the President does not own this vehicle,” Ndiweni told ZimLive.
“They pushed me to the ground, lifted me, and back down again trying to find the keys, keys which I refused to give to them.”
The skirmish attracted a large crowd which gathered around the vehicle, unnerving his attackers, the chief said.
“A large crowd had gathered, they were demanding to know ‘limenzani uNdiweni?’ (what are you doing to Chief Ndiweni?) I seized the moment to grab a jerrycan with fuel, jumped onto the back of the vehicle and started pouring the fuel on the car. All the while, I was asking who had a matches so that I burn the car, which to me is not important. That’s when they retreated.”
The chief is not in doubt that some of the men were from a security department of the government. The “President’s Office” can refer to the Central Intelligence Organisation.
“They were very clear that they are from the government. Among the mob accompanying them I saw several people I know, some of them ex-Zanu PF councillors, and one prominent member of the Zanu PF Women’s League from Umguza. I know the woman because she came to my home and stripped. Some of them I know them because they tried to steal drilling rig owned by Umguza Trust,” he said.
Chief Ndiweni filed a police report at Bulawayo Central Police Station after telling this website: “It really was an assault, and an attempted hijacking or kidnapping.”
The attack on Ndiweni comes just two days after Deputy Defence Minister Victor Matemadanda, also the secretary general of the war veterans’ association, said the chief was a “national security threat” for his constant criticism of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Matemadanda said Chief Ndiweni was “starting a fire that he is not going to be able to quench.”
Traditional leaders are issued vehicles by the government and also receive monthly allowances. Zanu PF has been accused of using those perks to control traditional leaders.
Ndiweni, who was British-educated and lived in England for over two decades, took over from his father, the paramount Ndebele Chief Khayisa Ndiweni who died in 2010.
Chief Ndiweni maintains he is not intimidated by the threats and physical harassment, which he says exposes the Zanu PF government’s poor democratic credentials.
“At the end of the day, we have to ask the question and get an answer: are we living in a democracy? Fact is if a traditional leader says things you don’t find comfortable, you don’t use instruments of state to assault and threaten him. By any tradition, that crosses the mark; the minute you do that you are not a government in my eyes,” Ndiweni said.
“I will continue saying these things because we have come to a situation whereby the country is on the floor. Do we sit down and bear it, or do we stand up and show them the door?”