BY SILAS NKALA
MATABELELAND chiefs secretary Nothiwani Dlodlo has questioned the silence of the National Chiefs’ Council president Fortune Charumbira following the incarceration of outspoken Ntabazinduna chief, Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, a move he said showed that traditional leaders had been stripped of their power.
Chief Ndiweni was recently sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail for malicious damage to property belonging to his subject, Feti Mbele. He was being charged with his 23 subjects who all received community service sentences. Chief Ndiweni was last week released on $500 bail, pending appeal.
Dlodlo said Chief Ndiweni’s incarceration had virtually destroyed the institution of traditional leadership and took away the dignity of chiefs and the command
element they used to wield in rural communities under their jurisdictions.
“The cost to retain the status quo is immeasurable, taking into account the silence by the National Chiefs’ Council to issue a statement informing other chiefs
about their fellow traditional leader’s predicament,” Dlodlo said.
“From now onwards, chiefs have lost their authority and relevance because even the parent ministry [Local Government] failed to issue a statement. That shows
you that chiefs are now sidelined. It’s not about Chief Ndiweni, but the whole institution of traditional leadership.”
Dlodlo said the jailing of Chief Ndiweni implies that traditional leaders no longer have the jurisdiction to preside over their subjects since there was no
guarantee that they would not be sued. Dlodlo’s remarks come after Chief Mathema recently said he suspected the existence of a third hand into Chief Ndiweni’s
Mathema said the chief’s offence and value of the property destroyed did not warrant imposition of a harsh sentence on the vocal chief. He said if the State
was not satisfied with the chief’s judgment of the case under spotlight, it should not have resorted to “underhand judiciary sentencing” of the chief.