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Chombo faces contempt of court

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Aspiring heir to the Samuriwo chieftainship in Mashonaland East Abias Samuriwo has threatened to sue Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for allegedly defying a High Court order to install him as the substantive chief.

According to court papers on March 26 this year, High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo declared Abias substantive Chief Samuriwo and ordered Chombo to dethrone current Chief Muza Bidi Samuriwo.

The ruling was meant to end a seven-year-old chieftainship wrangle pitting the Marondera-based clansmen.

Part of Justice Hlatswayo’s ruling reads: “The appointment and installation of the first respondent (Muza Samuriwo) as substantive chief Samuriwo be and is hereby declared null and void.

“The second, third and fourth respondent (Chombo, District Administrator James Chiwaro and President Robert Mugabe) be and are hereby ordered to take all necessary steps to ensure that applicant (Abias Samuriwo) is appointed and installed as Chief Samuriwo within 30 working days of the date of this order,” ruled Justice Hlatshwayo.

Samuriwo’s lawyers Honey and Blanckenberg said the 30-day ultimatum expired on May 11 prompting them to approach the Attorney-General’s Office threatening to pursue contempt of court proceedings against Chombo.

Yesterday Chombo confirmed he was in Marondera last Thursday, but said he had only gone there for a meeting to deal with the chieftainship wrangle and not change chiefs.

He said in an interview: “There is no chief in this country who has been appointed by the courts, but by traditional elders and our ministry just confirms who the chief is. This Samuriwo is making a traditional matter a legal matter and he can even go back to the courts.”

On June 26 2006, High Court judge Justice Alphas Chitakunye ruled in Samuriwo’s favour, but the installation failed to take place prompting Samuriwo to approach the courts for the second time.

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