Zim"s Longest Serving Chief Dies

Chief Ndiweni died on Wednesday morning at his homestead in Ntabazinduna, about 40km outside Bulawayo.

Family spokesperson, Wilson Bancinyane Ndiweni, a former Bulawayo councilor confirmed Chief Ndiweni’s death.

“We are in shock…he died in his sleep in the early hours of Wednesday morning,” the family spokesperson said in a telephone interview.

Chief Ndiweni, a critic of President Robert Mugabe, ascended to the throne in 1939 at the age of 39 and went on to become one of the country’s longest serving traditional leaders.

Chief Ndiweni who joined politics in 1960’s according to the family spokesperson, is survived by 11 children, 30 grand children, 13 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.

The death of Chief Ndiweni comes four days after he celebrated his 97th birthday at his homestead.

The Matabeleland North Provincial Administrator, Latiso Dlamini, the claimant to the Ndebele throne, Prince Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo, Chief Neville Ndondo of the Xhosa people, historian Pathisa Nyathi and educationist and poet Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane attended his birthday celebrations.

Speaking at celebrations to mark Chief Ndiweni’s 97th birthday, Bancinyane Ndiweni, said the Ndebele paramount chief had played an important role in the politics of the region.

“Chief Ndiweni is the first man to speak of the need of a federal system of governance in this country,” he had said.