The late Chief Mvuthu’s family in Hwange District has approached Government seeking permission to remove Mr Bishop Matata Sibanda who has been acting chief for the past four years.
The family claims that the acting chief is no longer serving its interests hence he should step down for another family member or a substantive chief.
Chief Mvuthu born Nyangayezizwe Mlotshwa of Monde area in the district, died in March 2014 aged 61.
His brother Mr Saunders Mlotshwa was nominated as the successor but the late chief’s daughter, Ms Silibaziso Mlotshwa now aged 23 challenged that in court arguing that she is the one who should take over from her late father.
In 2016, the Bulawayo High Court interdicted Mr Mlotshwa from taking over the throne but he appealed to the Supreme Court and the matter is still pending.
The family is divided with one faction in support of Mr Mlotshwa saying it is against the Ndebele culture for a woman to succeed her father as chief.
Other family members back Silibaziso, who is now married, saying she is being victimised just because she is a woman.
Mr Mlotshwa and those who support him reportedly met recently and resolved that Mr Sibanda should cease being the acting chief.
They notified the District Administrator’s office about their decision. The DA Mr Simon Muleya confirmed the matter.
“I saw the letter in which they stated that they no longer want the acting chief. All I can say is that as much as they have a right to do so, there are procedures to be followed and besides, there is a court case that is still pending,” said Mr Muleya.
The late Chief’s sister, Ms Thalitha Mlotshwa who is backing Mr Mlotshwa said the family no longer wants Mr Sibanda to continue as acting chief.
“We asked him to step down because he is no longer serving our interests as the royal family. He is no longer reporting to the family and we are also concerned because he has failed to stop the sale of land around Monde which we feel is enough for us to remove him,” said Ms Mlotshwa.
She said Mr Sibanda ignored invitations for a meeting at the DA’s office. Ms Mlotshwa said the family has a right to dethrone Mr Sibanda, adding that even taking the case to court was a mistake as it should have been solved at family level.
She said elders had engaged Silibaziso and explained to her why she cannot be the heir to her father’s throne.
The Gender Commission has also waded into the matter and recently sent a delegation to investigate.
The Commission’s chief executive Mrs Virginia Muwanigwa yesterday said investigations are underway.
“The matter came to us and we are currently doing our investigations and we can’t comment for now,” she said.
Silibaziso said she will continue fighting as she is the rightful heir.
“I’m still fighting through my lawyers and the Gender Commission also recently came on a fact finding mission about the issue. They said they will speak to my lawyer,” said Silibaziso.
She confirmed that her uncles and other family elders once came and locked the Chief’s Court to block Mr Sibanda from carrying out his duties.
A few months ago Mvuthu villagers formed an imbizo, a gathering of villagers from the same chieftaincy led by community elders to push the family to resolve the succession dispute.
In December they petitioned the late Chief Mvuthu’s family and Government to urgently install a substantive chief saying the wrangle is retarding development in the community.
The petition was copied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo, among others. – state media