Minister Barbara Rwodzi Caught in Chirumhanzu Chieftainship Dispute

Barbara Rwodzi (Image: X)
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Environment and Tourism Minister Barbara Rwodzi has been implicated in the ongoing Chirumhanzu chieftainship dispute. She stands accused of promoting her relative, who is not part of the royal family tree, to assume the chieftaincy—a position that has been contested for the past five years.

Brenna Matendere Reports

The dispute began following the death of Chief Chirumhanzu, born Gerald Mudzengi, on February 5, 2019. His son, Gerald Mudzengi Jr., was appointed as acting chief, a temporary position until a new substantive chief could be installed. Despite this arrangement, a permanent chief has yet to be named.

According to the Chirumhanzu chieftainship family tree, the Chigegwe family is next in line for the chieftaincy, having missed out in 2005 to the Chiweshe family under questionable circumstances. Minutes from a royal family meeting held on November 4, 2022, highlight this succession plan and underscore the need for respecting the traditional family hierarchy in selecting headmen and chiefs.

However, Minister Rwodzi is accused of obstructing this process in collaboration with Chirumhanzu District Committee Coordinator Fortunate Chimedza. Allegedly, they are pushing for the appointment of Tawanda Chipangura, the minister’s elder brother, rather than a rightful candidate from the Chigegwe family. Evidence suggests that Rwodzi has been in regular contact with both Chimedza and Chipangura regarding the chieftaincy issue.

Despite these accusations, Minister Rwodzi and Coordinator Chimedza have denied any involvement. “I have no clue what you are saying. I never interfere with chieftainship as a matter of principle,” Rwodzi stated when questioned by The NewsHawks. Chimedza also denied the allegations, stating, “It is all lies. I am not involved in any such scheme. I have only been DA in Chirumhanzu for the past three years.”

The selection of the new chief is scheduled for June 6, 2024. Initially set to take place in Mvuma, Chimedza has unilaterally moved the meeting to Rutanga, a remote and less secure location. This decision has raised security concerns, leading the Chirumhanzu Royal Families Dare to request a safer venue in a letter dated May 30, 2024, to the President’s office in Mvuma.

The letter emphasizes the need for maximum security and suggests holding the meeting at council offices or another secure venue to prevent potential violence. “Our client fears for the security and safety of its members,” the letter states.

The Chirumhanzu chieftainship family tree, updated every 20 years, indicates that the next chief should come from the Chigegwe family, not Tawanda Chipangura, as proposed by Minister Rwodzi. This update was last provided to the government on June 6, 2022.

On April 5, 2018, the Simba and Nherera families wrote to Chief Ngungumbani, the provincial chiefs council leader in Midlands, clarifying the succession order. “According to the practices and customs of our community, the current chief is supposed to come from the Chigegwe family,” the letter stated, urging the provincial assembly of chiefs to address the issue urgently.

As the June 6 meeting approaches, the Chirumhanzu community awaits the resolution of this contentious chieftainship dispute, hoping for a decision that respects their traditions and ensures a fair and orderly transition. – News Hawks