BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Ndiweni clan’s council of elders has reportedly declared suspended Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni as the legitimate Ntabazinduna traditional leader, Southern Eye has learnt.
This comes after the Matabeleland North Chief’s Council referred the contentious Ndiweni chieftainship issue to the family to decide.
Ndiweni was suspended as Ntabazinduna Chief in November during a Matabeleland North chief’s provincial assembly held in Bulawayo on the grounds that his chieftainship was being contested by his eldest brother, Joram.
It is alleged that the Local Government ministry triggered his suspension with traditional leaders from that province saying that Nhlanhlayamangwe was not supposed to be substantive chief in line with Nguni customs and practices.
The regional chiefs argued that Joram was the rightful heir to the chieftainship.
However, it is understood that the Inhlambabaloyi/Inhlambane and Abaphathi council — that has the final say on who becomes a traditional leader — has since retained Nhlanhlayamangwe as the substantive Ntabazinduna chief.
“Yes, they have been very clear on that. They have always had the final say on any chieftainship disputes and it is impossible to have a chief without the support of the Inhlambane and Abaphathi council,” Nhlanhlayamangwe said yesterday.
Joram filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court over five years ago, seeking to block Nhlanhlayamangwe from being installed as substantive chief, insisting he was the rightful heir.
Nhlanhlayamangwe’s installation has been postponed several times despite the late former President Robert Mugabe confirming him as the substantive chief.
“For them to speak out is very important and crucial as that means they have had enough with what was happening.
“Even if push comes to shove and government tries to force matters, what it means is that the chosen government representative will not be allowed to take over. The council has the final say on chieftainship issues,” Nhlanhlayamangwe said.
He added: “Even if the President of the day says I have removed Nhlanhla that will be equivalent to bar talk with no effect whatsoever.”
Efforts to contact the chiefs’ provincial leadership were fruitless.
Ndiweni, who is currently out on bail for destroying property belonging to his subject, is a fierce government critic.