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Gokwe chieftainship row removed from the roll again

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By Staff Reporter


High Court judge, Siyabona Musithu has removed from the roll the matter in which cousins, Martin Masuka and Mafioni Rikonda are fighting for Gokwe chieftainship.

This is the second time the case was removed from the roll, having been struck off by another High Court judge, Amy Tsanga citing it was not urgent.

Masuka argued that he was the heir apparent according to the royal lineage.

In his court application, he cited his cousin Mafioni Rikonda, Local government minister, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Midlands provincial assembly of Chiefs the district development coordinator, Gokwe South as first to 6th respondents respectively.

Masuka sought the review of the minister and Mnangagwa to nominate, recommend and approve the appointment of Rikonda as Chief Masuka.

“The applicant’s contention is that the appointment of the first respondent as Chief Masuka in Gokwe South District, in the Midlands Province was not done in terms of the prevailing traditional practices of the Masuka people as he was not from the senior generation of fathers of the Rikonda house.

“The applicant further contents that the elevation of the first respondent to the chieftainship infringed sections 3(2)(a)(i) and 3(2)(b) of the Traditional Leaders Act[ [Chapter 29:17]], in that the said first respondent was not the person nominated by the appropriate persons in the Masuka tribe.

“The applicant claims that his constitutional rights to nominate a person in the course of the appointment of a substantive chief Masuka were also infringed,” the court heard.

Masuka traced the history of the Masuka chieftainship to the 1950s, asserting that at some point the chieftainship was downgraded to the position of headman.

He said this was done by the colonial settlers who had invaded their ancestral land in the Bikita area of Masvingo Province.

He said the Masuka people were then moved to Gokwe where their chieftainship was to be restored.

According to Masuka, the person who was next in line to be chief was one Ndaedzwa Jimu in line with the collateral succession method.

He said upon the relocation of the Masuka people to Gokwe, Ndaedzwa Jimu was never installed as substantive chief but remained a headman till his death.

The court heard the Masuka chieftainship was only revived in July 2020.

The Council of Chiefs was then ordered to determine which house within the Masuka clan was entitled to the chieftainship.

He said the Rikonda family resolved to follow their traditional succession principles which dictated that the eldest surviving person in the Rikonda House automatically assumed the chieftainship.

This was the procedure that had always been followed even when Ndaedzwa Jimu became headman.

It was his submission that as the eldest person in the Rikonda House, he was supposed to assume the Chieftainship at the expense of the other royal households which are Nemaringa and Gwenjera.

According to Masuka what made Rikonda’s position even more untenable was that his father was still alive.

“There was no way that he could have been installed in his father’s stead,” he said.

Rikonda however denied that his appointment was made in contravention of the law.

He cited s 283 of the Constitution which essentially provides that the appointment of a chief must be done by the President of Zimbabwe on the recommendations of the Provincial Assembly of Chiefs through the National Council of Chiefs and the Minister responsible for traditional leader

Rikonda also said the prevailing tradition of succession within the Masuka clan was collateral.

He said the chieftainship rotated amongst three eligible houses that is Gwenjera, Nemaringa and Rikonda.

According to their family tree, there were three sub-houses which are Machiri, Ndaedzwa and Tozoona.

The Machiri and Ndaedzwa sub-houses had already utilised their turn, and the next in line was the Tozoona sub-house.

He said Masuka was from the Ndaedzwa sub-house so he could not have been nominated to be substantive chief Masuka.

The judge concurred with Rikonda ruling that only the President was privileged to appoint chiefs.

“The President only appoints someone who has been nominated.

“From my reading of the law, the nomination and the appointment of a chief are two different processes.

“The President, as the appointing authority, is only involved in the later process.

“However, when a dispute arises following the appointment of a chief, that dispute must be resolved by the President, after recommendations by the provincial assembly of chiefs through the Local government minister.

“The applicant cannot approach the court based on complaints that were made in the process of challenging the nomination of the first respondent,” the judge ruled before striking the matter off the roll.