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Binga chieftainship wrangle spills into High Court

by Staff reporter
18 Sep 2023 at 06:58hrs | Views
A CLAIMANT to the Binga chieftainship, Mr Peter Mweembe has approached the High Court challenging the recent appointment of Mr Grey Sikalelu Muleya as Chief Binga.

Muleya was appointed Chief Binga in May at Bulawayo Kraal Primary School, a day after President Mnangagwa launched the historic National Culture Month in the district.

He succeeded Gasta Siakulya who died in 2019 after a long illness.

Mweembe, through his lawyers, Dube Legal Practice, filed an application for a mandatory interdict at the Bulawayo High Court citing the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Muleya, Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs and President Mnangagwa as respondents.

Mweembe wants an order directing the Local Government Minister to convene a meeting of the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs within 30 days so that it can come up with recommendations on the resolutions pertaining to Muleya's disputed appointment as Chief Binga.

He also wants an order compelling the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs to convene a meeting to consider and report to the minister their recommendations on the resolution of the dispute not later than October 30, 3023.

The applicant wants the court to order the minister to pay the legal costs.

In his founding affidavit, Mr Mweembe said despite writing a letter to the then Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo requesting him to first resolve the Binga chieftainship dispute, he went ahead and installed Muleya as substantive chief.

"The first respondent (Minister of Local Government and Public Works) despite him having knowledge of the disputed appointment went ahead and inaugurated the second respondent (Muleya) as substantive Chief Binga. On May 30, 2023, my legal practitioners wrote a letter to the minister further requesting attendance to the matter and there was no response to date," he said.

"I have been left with no option but to approach this Honourable Court to have the first respondent do his administrative duties."

Mweembe argued that he is the rightful heir to the throne.

"I must state that I have a clear right in this matter as I am the rightful heir to the Binga chieftaincy. I am of the Tonga tribe in the Zambezi Valley in Binga District and the Binga chieftaincy is a matriarchal one," he said.

"The chieftaincy from the year 1900 when the Binga chieftaincy originated, lied with the Siakabuwa lineage as per the archives                                                                     record."

Mweembe said when Chief Siakabuwa died, he was succeeded by Siazuza who upon his death in 1939 was succeeded by Sinkonkole.

"When Sinkonkole died in 1994 that is when the late Gasta Siakulya started claiming chieftainship. He is a descendant of one Siamukuti who once tried to usurp the powers of Chief Binga when he was the chief's messenger," he said.

"He (Siamukuti) actually wrote a letter to the native commissioner advising him of the death of Siazuza and intended to usurp the powers at the time."

Mweembe said while Siamukuti failed in his attempt to usurp power, his descendants managed to misrepresent facts and took over the chieftainship in 2000 through the late Siakulya who was appointed substantive Chief Binga.

"Given that the late Gasta Siakulya was already chief, I could not do much to challenge the chieftainship until he died in June 2019," he said.

"Upon his death, I made further representations at the district coordinator's office and other offices about my right to chieftaincy in terms of the customs and traditions of the Tonga tribe, and my efforts have been fruitless."

Mweembe said when the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs met at the late Chief Siakulya's homestead to appoint a new chief, he made representations but was not given an opportunity.

"A successor was chosen from Chief Siakulya's family which perpetuated the wrongful chieftaincy, depriving the Tonga people of their rightful chief in terms of their customs and traditions," he said.

Mweembe said that had the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs considered his representations and the customary principles of the succession of the Binga chieftainship in making recommendations to the minister, they would have found that he was the rightful candidate.

"I am only asking that my challenge to the appointment of the second respondent be heard and determined. Actually, that is part of the duties of the third respondent (Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs) as provided for in the constitution of Zimbabwe and the Traditional Leaders Act, and it is part of the minister's duties to refer matters to the provincial assembly of chiefs so that they convene a meeting," he said.

"I submit that I have a good case for relief I seek and pray for an order in terms of the draft order."

The respondents, through the Civil Division of the Attorney General's Office, opposed the application.

In his founding affidavit, the acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Emmanuel Ngwarati argued that the appointment of Muleya satisfied all the provisions in terms of Section 283 of the Constitution as read with Section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act.

He said a team was constituted in terms of the constitution to preside over the selection of a candidate for the appointment of Chief Binga.

Mr Ngwarati said the team comprised members of the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs who included Chiefs Pashu, Sinansengwe and Siabuwa.

They held a meeting with the Binga chieftainship families in August 2021.

"It was after the selection team concluded its processes that the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly of Chiefs recommended the appointment of Grey Sikalelu Muleya at its meeting held on 1 April 2022 to be the substantive Chief Binga," said Mr Ngwarati.

"It must be pointed out that prior to the appointment of Grey Sikalelu Muleya, a fact-finding team was tasked to research the Binga chieftainship and it established that it follows the matrilineal/collateral success tradition."

Mr Ngwarati said it was further noted that disputes were elicited by a lack of information on the chieftainship before 1940.

"In keeping with the matrilineal system of succession, it was ascertained that chieftainship should go to Grey Sikalelu Muleya after his family unanimously nominated him as the candidate," he said.

Mr Ngwarati said the applicant lodged his letter of complaint to the provincial development coordinator's office and not the minister. He said Mweembe rushed to court before he was furnished with a proper response to the matter.

Source - The Chronicle
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