HARARE provincial administrator Alfred Tome was yesterday nominated for the Zvimba chieftainship amid allegations that Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo was artificially creating the leadership wrangle in President Robert Mugabe’s backyard for his own political expediency.
At an emotionally-charged meeting at Murombedzi growth point yesterday, Chief Zvimba, Stanley Mhondoro, accused Chombo’s office of having “a special interest” in the affairs of the Gushungo clan which was fighting for the chieftainship.
The meeting was allegedly organised by Chombo to “iron out” sticky issues in the selection of Chief Beperere. NewsDay was also at the meeting that was attended by almost 100 family members.
The chiefs and other clan members who attended the meeting said Chombo’s interest in the Zvimba chieftainship had caused confusion with the minister, who is also Zvimba North MP, attempting to sideline Tome, the clan’s preferred candidate, in favour of Matheas Matare from the Dutsa family for the post of Chief Beperere.
The meeting started with Chief Zvimba and the Zvimba family spokesperson Stanley Chikambi demanding minutes of the previous meeting and why the Local Government ministry had called the meeting when the clan had agreed that Tome was the preferred candidate in the presence of Mugabe on April 4.
Chombo’s team included Zvimba district administrator Andrew Tizora, Masvingo provincial administrator Felix Chikovo and Mashonaland Central provincial administrator Josphat Jaji, among others.
The timid Local Government team claimed they had been sent by Fanuel Mukwaira, a director in Chombo’s ministry responsible for the appointment of chiefs, to consult and formalise the Beperere chieftainship.
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The team had to ask everyone to get out of the hall except members of the Beperere family after tempers flared.
“The family is unsettled because the Local Government ministry is now an interested party. You cannot take us for a ride. The ministry is trying to manipulate the chieftainship against chosen candidates,” Chief Zvimba said.
He claimed that the situation was degenerating into chaos and most decisions about the appointment were being done in his absence yet he was the paramount chief of the family.
He claimed that he had been chased away by some family members at some meeting to deliberate on the selection of a candidate for the Beperere chieftainship.
“You are taking us back. We have selected Alfred Tome and now you ask us to choose another one. That is why I said you have a special interest in our chieftainship. And we are worried about that,” Chief Zvimba said.
He sensationally claimed that some chiefs across the country had confided in him at a meeting in Victoria Falls in March that they had had similar problems with the Local Government ministry over the appointment of chiefs.
Chikambi weighed in: “You are assembling us to ask us who we are to choose. Do you want to do away with what we decided in the presence of President Mugabe?”
Jaji said they had not come to impose the chief, but to set the record straight.
Zunzapfumo Tome said Matare, popularly known as Dununu, had been handpicked by Chombo’s office without the consent of the family.
“We approached Minister Chombo when we heard Matare would be appointed. He said no name had been given to him yet. When we checked, we later found out that the name had already been given to President Mugabe and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and we objected,” Tome said.