By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE government has written to the High Court in support of the removal of outspoken Ntabazinduna traditional leader, Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni last month by President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying the move was justified as he is not a legitimate traditional leader.
In December last year, President Mnangagwa controversially fired Ndiweni and ordered the immediate seizure of his car and all government issued possessions.
There was an uproar in certain quarters that his removal was politically motivated as he spoke against atrocities perpetrated by the government.
Following his removal, Ndiweni, through his lawyer Dumisani Dube, immediately challenged the decision at the High Court in Bulawayo on grounds that the dismissal was unconstitutional.
In the High Court application, Ndiweni cited Mnangagwa, Chiefs Council President Fortune Charumbira; Matabeleland North Provincial Chiefs Assembly chairperson, Mtshane Khumalo; Matabeleland North Provincial Coordinator, Latiso Dlamini and Umguza District Coordinator Tapiwa Zivovoyi as respondents.
However, in opposing papers submitted at the High Court this week, the government, through the Local Government Permanent Secretary Zvinechimwe Ruvinga Churu, claimed that since Ndiweni’s appointment in 2014, his elder brother Joram and some unidentified members of the clan had continued to petition the State to remove him on the grounds that he was installed against the Ndiweni customary principles of succession.
“At one time Joram made a court application challenging the appointment of the applicant as Chief Ndiweni under case number HC 1875/14. These petitions are the ones which prompted the ministry to set up investigation teams in 2014 and 2017 as well as to refer the matter to the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs for recommendations to the President,” argued Churu in his submission.
The Permanent Secretary said Ndiweni was lawfully removed from office.
“Section 68 of the Constitution was properly followed and the applicant was given the opportunity to be heard and to make representations during investigations,” further submitted Churu.
However, Ndiweni’s lawyer maintains that Mnangagwa’s action was clearly in violation of the Constitution and the Traditional Leaders Act.
He said Ndiweni was never notified of any misconduct as per the requirement of the Act.
“Up to now, the Chief has not been formally told of his charges which have resulted in his removal. If there were any charges levelled against him, he was supposed to go before a disciplinary hearing,” said Ndiweni’s lawyer.