THE Katerere family members have accused Nyanga district administrator (DA) Irene Boozai of frustrating efforts to resolve their 56-year-old chieftainship wrangle.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Chinake Mutseta, a member of the Katerere clan, who is earmarked for the throne, told NewsDay this week that they had fruitlessly tried to engage the DA, but she was continually shifting goal posts.
The wrangle has been exacerbated by the fact that the substantive chief was appointed after an election, a departure from the traditional appointment.
“When we first went to the DA in January 2014, she advised us to make an application, which we did. After that, she then told us to go and sit down with Ellias Matambo Chifodya, the elected chief, and come up with a resolution and we complied. However, when we then went back to her after coming up with a resolution, she ordered Chifodya to abscond,” Mutseta said.
He showed NewsDay a letter signed by Chifodya in which he acknowledged their meeting and advised the DA that they were to meet in her office on February 10 the same year.
Mutseta, however, said when they went to the DA’s office on the agreed date, Chifodya did not turn up and on inquiry, he said he had been barred from attending meetings with the Katereres.
“We then gathered more than 80 members of the Katerere clan, three headmen, 10 village heads and 11 traditional leaders responsible for installing chiefs, who actually conceded that there was need for a new chief, but the DA deserted her office and we spent the whole day at her office,” he said.
Mutseta said they were then advised by the police in Nyanga that the DA had told them that the Katereres should approach the High Court to have their matter resolved, to which they declined.
“We refused to go to the High Court because there was no dispute between the Katereres and Chifodya,” he said.
He said the DA’s fear was that if she allowed the process of handover of chieftainship, it would backfire as they would have to tell President Robert Mugabe, who appends his signature on appointment of chiefs, that they misrepresented facts in appointing Chifodya.
Boozai refuted the claims and said everything that she had done was in accordance with the Traditional Leaders Act.
“There are policies that we follow as well as the Traditional Leaders Act Chapter 29.17. What you can do is talk to the director of traditional leaders (Fanuel) Mukwaira and he will explain everything that is going on with that issue. In everything we do, we follow procedures,” she said.
Mukwaira backed Boozai and said as long as Chifodya was alive, the Katereres had to wait.
He said the Constitution provided for a chief to remain in place unless he commits an act of misconduct as cited in the Traditional Leaders Act.
“Why did they not raise objections when we were looking for a chief? There is no way they can remove him (Chifodya) now and the DA is right. Once the President exercises his Executive right in appointment, there is nothing that can be done to remove a chief,” Mukwaira said.
“Chifodya was appointed on March 19, 1993, and there is nothing they can do to remove him now,” Mukwaira said.
Mutseta, however, shot back and said Chifodya’s appointment was scandalous from the outset.
“Where did they find him in the first place?” he quipped.
“Chifodya is not even in our family tree. They conducted an election where village heads and villagers voted, which goes against the same Traditional Leaders Act they deviated from when they appointed Chifodya.”
He accused the Ministry of Local Government of corruption and double standards, saying it was shocking that they were rejecting a letter of agreement where Chifodya conceded that he had to hand over the chieftaincy.
“We have advised all the neighbouring chiefs on the issue and they are aware of it. If Chifodya is a chief, how come they are failing to exhume soldiers in known mass graves in the area? They must come clean on the issue.”