President Emmerson Mnangagwa has dismissed aspirations by the Ndebele and Rozvi clans to have their traditional Kings restored into the governance of the country.
Addressing the ZANU PF Provincial Coordinating Committee meeting in Gweru on Saturday, President Mnangagwa said kast week he received a letter from someone from Hwedza area who said he wanted to revive the Rozvi Kingdom and he threw the letter away.
“I received a letter from someone from Hwedza, he said he wanted to revive the Rozvi Kingdom, I placed the letter in my drawer. There is no kingdom here, it’s a Republic, we can only have chiefs. So Chief (Ngungumbane who was in the meeting) when you hold your meetings, you speak about chiefs and not kings or kingdoms,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Zimbabwe is a Republic and therefore there are no kingdoms.
“There are those who wanted to revive a king in Matabeleland region and we said no, you can’t have a kingdom in a Republic. That’s why they say the Kingdom of Lesotho, Kingdom of Eswatini, those are kingdoms, they are not republics. Zimbabwe is a Republic and there cannot be a king. There can only be chiefs,” said the President.
The Ndebele people from Matabeleland have been in the forefront for years demanding the restoration of King Lobengula’s heir. The proponents have been challenging the Zimbabwean goverment to follow the South African traditional leaders system which sees the republic running with kingdoms in its set-up.
South Africa has 10 kings and one queen, as well as thousands of lesser traditional leaders, including chiefs and headmen. In rural areas they play important roles in mediating local disputes.
During the apartheid years, traditional leadership was entrenched, with the white minority government propping up compliant rulers.
Customary law is recognized under South Africa’s progressive post-apartheid constitution, and the government provides traditional leaders with financial support.