Chirumhanzu chieftaincy dispute reaches boiling point

A fight has erupted over the replacement of Chief Chirumhanzu of the Midlands following the death of substantive chief Jerald Mudzengi in February.

The succession battle has reached fever pitch with two warring factions taking their fight to the High Court in Masvingo.

This comes after Chirumanzu provincial assembly representatives made spirited efforts to install the late Mudzengi’s son, Fidelis, unprocedurally as traditionally the Chirumhanzu clan rotates the chieftainship among different eligible families in the lineage.

To complicate matters, it is understood that the late Mudzengi himself assumed leadership through guile as his family was ineligible.

In an interview with The Herald, the dynasty chairperson Headman Francis Chaka from the Simba family of the Shumba Mhazi clan said the refusal by the Midlands provincial leadership to confirm the outcome of the clan’s clear nomination procedure through the assembly’s representative chiefs Mafala and Mataruse had added fuel to the raging fight.

‘‘In Chirumhanzu we rotate chieftaincy among the six families that are well known and documented in our family tree. Jerald Mudzengi’s assumption of the throne in 2004 was dogged by theft, fraud and chicanery as it skipped two families — the third and fourth. It came as no surprise that his reign was fraught with all manner of incompetence, embarrassment, disunity and controversy leading to the petition to the President to dethrone him,’’ said Headman Chaka.

‘‘Jerald Mudzengi died in February 2019. The steering committee proceeded to inform the Midlands Provincial Chiefs Assembly that had come to normalise the chieftaincy by nominating as Acting Chief (Sarapavana) the rightful person, Julius Chimbi Chigegwe. Instead of moving ahead with that process which normally takes a week or two, the provincial and district administrators and their handlers embarked on a series of dubious activities meant to subvert and undermine the due and constitutionally-aligned process of appointing an Acting Chief,’’ Headman Chaka said.

The vice-chairperson of the Chirumhanzu Dynasty Steering Committee, Headman Alouis Rutunga, who represents the Nherera family of the clan, said they were not happy with the imposition and that it was a community they will fight until the chieftainship and heritage of Chirumanzu is restored properly.