THE late Ndebele paramount chief, Khayisa Ndiweni’s eldest son Joram Khayisa Thambo Tuesday filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court in Bulawayo seeking to block his brother Nhlanhla Felix from being installed as substantive chief on Friday.
In the application filed by leading Bulawayo lawyer Sindiso Mazibisa of Cheda and Partners Legal Practitioners, Umguza District Administrator Ennety Sithole, Nhlanhla and the Minister of Local Government Public Works and National Housing Dr Ignatius Chombo were cited as the first, second and third respondents.
Joram, who is based in the United Kingdom, is seeking an order stopping Friday’s installation pending determination by the courts on who should be substantive chief.
The latest development follows the submission of summons by Joram’s brother Douglas Dumisani last Friday calling for the nullification of Nhlanhla’s appointment as heir on grounds that proper procedures as stipulated under the Traditional Leaders Act were not followed.
Chief Ndiweni’s widow, Agnes, is alleged to have crossed swords with Joram and Douglas when she convinced the Government to instal her last born son, Nhlanhla, as chief.
In Tuesday’s application, Joram said the Ndiweni chieftainship was hereditary and Nhlanhla’s appointment was in violation of Nguni custom, practice and norms.
In his founding affidavit, Joram said following Chief Ndiweni’s death in 2010, Sithole, acting in connivance with his young brother and various other persons, chose Nhlanhla two years later as substantive chief in violation of the law and Nguni practice and norms.
He said the move was followed by the “unlawful and unprecedented” appointment of Nhlanhla by Sithole, Dr Chombo and President Mugabe, as substantive chief. Joram said his family was of Nguni origin and he was the eldest son of the late chief, married with children, the eldest being 27-year-old Mhlambezi.
He said in terms of the Traditional Leaders Act, President Mugabe “has to appoint a successor in terms of the prevailing customary law principles of succession, and in our culture, they being that the eldest son is the heir to the throne of the late chief.”
Joram said in terms of the law, appropriate persons in the community were supposed to be consulted.
“This was not done by the Respondents. If anything, the appointment was done arbitrarily and unilaterally outside the parameters of the enabling statute,” he said.
Joram said his younger brother was the 11th born in a family of 12 and his appointment is an abomination in Nguni custom and culture as well as untenable legally. “No lawful impediment exists against my appointment, failure to which my eldest son Mhlambezi is alive and fit to assume the chieftainship. This is in accordance with our culture and customary traditions. It is not foul of any statute and does not offend our traditional systems. It is a system that has been in place for generations and generations and cannot be questioned by respondents today,” said Joram.
“For the record, the appropriate persons, being family members, were not consulted in the appointment process.”
Joram said Nhlanhla’s appointment was not done by the Ndiweni family in terms of Section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act.
“In terms of the Nguni custom, a chief is appointed once all customs and rites have been followed and in consultation with the clan of Nhlambabaloyi. The family and community members were not interviewed and that renders the process defective,” he said.
“In Nguni or Ndebele custom, chieftainship is hereditary. As the first born, if the applicant is not fit and proper then his first born son would take his place. The Respondents’ actions collectively are null and void and must be set aside and the process restarted.”
Joram said despite opposition through his legal representatives and communication with the relevant offices, Nhlanhla was appointed substantive chief without compliance with the law.
“I’m making this application on the grounds that an installation ceremony has been set for 22 August 2014, which if not interdicted by this court on the grounds set out herein, an unlawful process will be legalised and the whole community suffer irreparable harm,” said Joram. I have made a court action to this Honourable Court under case number HC 1875 seeking inter alia an order which if granted the net effect will set aside the whole process and therefore am seeking an interdict pending litigation and finalisation before this honourable court.
“The people of Ntabazinduna don’t need drama; they need a proper chief to be installed once and for all.”