Improving the traditional branch of our institutions of power is part of a holistic approach to improving national governance today. Every civilised society has an established institution put in place to design laws that promote and protect civil living by protecting human rights and people’s responsibilities, privileges, safety and security.
We believe the modern chiefs’ institution should act as an apolitical branch performing checks on political institutions. Sadly our vision is now threatened by a reckless and incompetent political regime whose purpose has always been absolutism, and the objectification of other nations.
The suppression of some nations within the country cannot be the future for Zimbabwe. If the country is to move forward, the top-down regime must be replaced with the bottom-up type of governance; those closest to the effects of political decisions (the public) must be even closer to the power.
If we do not act now on the politically motivated removal of Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni from his chieftaincy, we would be derelict in our duty. Keeping a great nation great is everyone’s duty; Mthwakazi will be a great nation if we keep it. No nation in history has ever overseen the rewards of its God-given resources while saddled with weak institutions.
Weak institutions become a national socioeconomic and political liability – a camouflage through which the elite cover up their illegal activities from the general population; without accountability, natural resources (and benefits thereof) are siphoned out with impunity. It is the poor who suffer the consequences. We argue thus, without strong and effective institutions, a society is dead to development.
It is in the national interest to protect the independence of our traditional institutions. We understand that it is our institutions that open or close doors to external or internal exploitation. Clandestine moves to withdraw Chief Ndiweni’s chieftainship are retaliatory political manoeuvres to silence a gifted, focused and dynamic traditional leader who is clearly threatening the long-term ambitions of independent Zimbabwe’s political elite – despotism.
Even those opposed to Chief Ndiweni’s chieftainship must be concerned by the level of incompetence within the Zimbabwean public service. The same state institutions that scrutinised the application and validated the chieftaincy are, five years later, questioning and rejecting it! What made his application valid back then and what has changed since?
ZANU PF supporters cannot fool us by pretending their actions are in the interest of protecting Nguni traditions and customs. This is not about the protection of traditions on succession but a clear case of a wounded state undermining Mthwakazi culture and traditions.
It is interesting that Chief Ndiweni is being disqualified only on the basis of not being the first born son without giving consideration to other criterion items. This argument falls flat on its face; we want to highlight to the pro-Joram fan base that he is not the first born son of the late Chief Khayisa Ndiweni, Mahlebezulu is.
Now on how a chief is chosen in Nguni custom: being the first born son is a criterion along with other criteria; therefore, it must be noted that being the first born, important a factor as it is, will not of its own guarantee accession to the throne. The individual has to meet other criterion items.
Those following Zimbabwe’s politics and chief Ndiweni’s leadership style will understand why he is a threat to the core of the country’s politics. Zimbabwe’s system is in love with Mthwakazi leaders who will not lead Mthwakazi specific initiatives but blindly approve state impositions. Zimbabwe’s political system is set out to manage and not empower Mthwakazi and a critical leader upsets the status quo.
In Chief Ndiweni, we are not worshipping ashes but preserving the fire that will carry Mthwakazi flames for generations. The case for strengthening local institutions is stronger now as it was on the first day of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980; to this day, we seek to emancipate ourselves from the doldrums of Zimbabwe’s incompetent politics.
We would exercise one of the most solemn powers granted to us by our constitutional mandate to protect our right under the constitution to be ourselves. Being ourselves encompasses being able to choose our traditional leadership according to our customs and traditions.
At this very important moment in Mthwakazi’s history, we must honour our oath to support and defend our leadership from all enemies, foreign and domestic. We have reservations over the Matabeleland North traditional leaders’ provincial assembly’s authority, deliberations and judgement; we expect our traditional leadership to render impartial justice which in this case is found wanting.
The biggest fear in Chief Ndiweni’s case is political interference and that the illegal removal and silencing of the loudest and most eloquent voice for our rights and a true representative and hero of our nation and advocate for the restoration of its traditional authority would create a vacuum in the region which is still grappling selective justice, discrimination and restrictive politics.
It is the highlight of leadership failure that the Zimbabwean government has to use its power as a weapon against its own people. We view the sanctions against Chief Ndiweni as an infringement of our cultural sovereignty. This has nothing to do with irregularities in the application process but a retaliatory measure from an incompetent government that cannot stomach scrutiny. To the Matabeleland chiefs who support this move, we remind them of their public accountability and say allowing politics to compromise traditional power structures renders our region open to undue political interference beyond this day.