By Bulawayo Correspondent
OPPOSITION political parties in Bulawayo have strongly condemned the incarceration of firebrand Ntabazinduna traditional leader, Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni following his conviction on charges of destroying a villager’s property in Ntabazinduna 2017.
Bulawayo magistrate, Gladmore Mushove Friday sentenced Ndiweni to 18 months in prison for damaging Fetti Mbele’s homestead.
His other 23 co-accused villagers were sentenced to 525 hours of community service each.
The paramount Ndebele Chief’s sentence has however been roundly condemned by political parties in the city which view the imprisonment as politically motivated.
Pro-Matebeleland Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) activists who attended Ndiweni’s court hearing at Tredgold magistrates courts, demonstrated in the city Friday night protesting Ndiweni’s arrest.
“The arrest of our Chief is political because of his stance on issues to do with Matebeleland,” said MRP president Mqondisi Moyo.
“Where in this country have you seen a Chief imprisoned for such a long time doing his constitutional duties? Chiefs in Mashonaland have made so many judgements which oppress their subjects but they have never been arrested, let alone imprisoned.”
MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza concurred with Moyo.
“Chief Ndiweni’s crime is to know how to read the Zimbabwean Constitution. His crime is to be able to demand that which is enshrined in the Bill of Rights for the People.
“Chief Ndiweni’s crime is his ability to separate that which is democratic from the oppressive,” said Chirowodza.
The MDC Alliance spokesperson called on the government to unconditionally release the Chief.
“We therefore join President Nelson Chamisa in his call to Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Junta to release our Chief immediately,” he said.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said Chief Ndiweni is being punished for being vocal against the government’s undemocratic rule and misgovernance.
“Chief Ndiweni has been incarcerated not only because of the crime he is alleged to have committed but he has long been an undesirable element according to Zanu PF.
“The sending away of the chief from his people is a well calculated ploy by the regime that is allergic to dissent,” said Maphosa.
The Zapu spokesperson said Ndiweni’s arrest was aimed to intimidate, frustrate and create sense of hopelessness among the people of Matebeleland.
War Veterans secretary general and Zanu PF political commissar, Victor Matemadanda in May this year warned Chief Ndiweni to stop “meddling” in politics after the latter had said Mnangagwa will not last his term due to the declining economic situation in the country.