Chief Mvuthu wrangle ‘halted’

court hammer

Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
A BULAWAYO High Court judge has issued a provisional order interdicting the Hwange District Administrator from installing a substantive Chief Mvuthu until a chieftainship dispute before the courts is finalised.

The ruling by Justice Maxwell Takuva follows an urgent chamber application filed by Silibaziso Mlotshwa ,21, the eldest daughter to the late Chief Mvuthu, seeking to stop the DA from forwarding the name of her uncle, Saunders Mlotshwa, as a designate or substantive Chief Mlotshwa, to the Minister of Rural Development, Preservation of Culture and Heritage Abedinico Ncube.

Chief Mvuthu Mlotshwa died in 2014.

Silibaziso had earlier filed summons arguing that she was disqualified from being a chief just because she was a woman.

Justice Takuva on Tuesday granted the provisional order stopping any process until the matter was finalised.

“The first respondent be and is hereby interdicted from forwarding the name of the second respondent as a substantive or designate Chief Mlotshwa for Hwange District to the third respondent and or President of Zimbabwe pending the finalisation of the summons issued under HC/3449/15,” ruled Justice Takuva.

According to summons filed at the High Court, Silibaziso said she was supposed to be appointed chief taking over from her late father because she is the eldest of her father’s three daughters.

Silibaziso’s uncle, Saunders Mlotshwa, was appointed chief instead of her because she is a woman.

Silibaziso contends that being a woman is not an impediment to becoming a chief.

In the court papers, Silibaziso is the plaintiff while the Hwange District Administrator, Mlotshwa, Rural Development, Preservation of Culture and Heritage Minister Ncube and President Robert Mugabe were cited as the defendants.Silibaziso, through her lawyer Nkosilathi Mlala of Sansole and Senda legal practitioners, is seeking an order nullifying the appointment of Saunders as the substantive Chief Mvuthu.

In her summons, Silibaziso said following the death of her father, the DA, acting on discriminatory grounds and ill-conceived advice from unknown uncles and relatives, appointed Saunders as substantive Chief Mvuthu.

Silibaziso argues that the DA acted against provisions of the Nguni customs and norms as well as against clear provisions of Section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act.“The late Chief Mvuthu Mlotshwa is survived by three daughters and the plaintiff is the eldest.

The plaintiff was disqualified from being appointed a chief because she is a woman. This is despite the fact that being a woman is no longer an impediment in the Nguni culture and statutes for one to be appointed a chief,” read the papers.Silibaziso argued that in KwaZulu-Natal where the Nguni originate, there are now many female chiefs who have undertaken tasks equally competently.“

Zimbabwe has a total of six female chiefs dotted around the country. Three of the female chiefs in Zimbabwe are of Nguni (Ndebele) origin, that is Chief Sinqobile Mabhena of Umzingwane, Chief Ketso Mathe of Gwanda and Chief Nonhlanhla Sibanda of Insiza. They are all from Matabeleland South province,” said Silibaziso.

She said the appointment of her uncle Saunders was an abomination to the Nguni culture because he had never lived in Hwange but spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

“His appointment is anti-people and motivated by malice, greed, sexism, misogyny and hostile patriarchy which harks back to the centuries old tradition long overtaken by evolving Nguni culture and a new constitutional dispensation,” Silibaziso argued.

She said since the death of her father, she had been fending for the whole family after assuming duties as the head of the family.

“The plaintiff continues to act as paterfamilias (head of family) executing her duties diligently and with a sense of pride”.

Silibaziso said her late father was a progressive man who prepared her to assume the position of Chief as heir apparent and that she had remained a selfless person to the point of exploitation by her uncle and ‘so called relatives’.

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