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Tourism minister embroiled in chieftainship row



ENVIRONMENT and Tourism Minister Barbara Rwodzi (pictured) has been caught up in the Chirumhanzu chieftainship wrangle where she is accused of fronting her relative who does not belong to the royal family tree to take over the reigns that have been in contention for the past five years.


Chief Chirumhanzu, born Gerald Mudzengi, died on 5 February 2019.

His son, Gerald Mudzengi, was accordingly made acting chief to serve in a temporary capacity until a substantive chief was installed.

However, since then, the substantive chief has not been installed.

According to the family tree of chieftainship for Chief Chirumhanzu, Chigegwe family is supposed to take over the chieftainship after missing out in 2005 to the Chiweshe family under dubious circumstances.

This is contained in minutes of the Chirumhanzu chieftainship royal families dare meeting held on 4 November 2022.

Part of the minutes read: “The chairperson, Mr. Jumo, advised the meeting that when selecting members for Headmen posts, try to respect the family tree. He reiterated the sequence of selection after the Acting period, as indicated under the process, with Chieftainship slotted for Chigegwe Sub-house gong to Mudzengi, Chapanya’s eldest son, Mudzengi Dominic, who was present and consented that a younger person, act in his capacity. He nominated Julius Chimbi Chigegwe. In Nherera House from Chigegwe, Chieftainship will go straight to Chimunye as a way of completing the first Phase of Chieftainship.”

As part of the vision of Chirumanzu chieftainship, the meeting agreed to: “Ensure unity among Chirumhanzu people and smooth succession of the Chirumhanzu Dynasty per Chisungo to ensure orderly orderly transition, allocation of Headmanship, new chiefs and a Paramount Chiefs as done in the District within Chirumhanzu equitably. Changes as agreed by the Dynasty would include land distribution to benefit VaMhanzu and positions for families that are not in line for chieftaincy;

“An economically, socially, culturally, spiritually developed Chirumhanzu whose people enjoy a good standard of living and live in harmony with each other and with their relatives including Chiefs such as Hama, Nhema, Mapiravana, etc.; and

“To regain control over allocation and use of resources within Chirumhanzu that VaMhanzu are entitled to, their inheritance, while ensuring ‘greatest happiness for the greatest number’, and take stock of current distribution and ownership of land, natural resources with the view to equitably sharing, benefiting and enabling access to the utilization of the resources by all Chirumhanzu people through a Chirumhanzu Chieftaincy Dynasty Trust (CCDT).”

However, Minister Rwodzi is accused of stalling the process and working with Chirumhanzu District Committee Coordinator Fortunate Chimedza to block Chigegwe family and instead push for the installment of Tawanda Chipangura, elder brother of the minister.

The NewsHawks gathered that Rwodzi has been in constant touch with Chiemedza and Tawanda, her elder brother on the chieftaincy issue.

 Evidence gathered show that a senior member of the Rwodzi family who is brother of the late minister’s husband and acts as the secretary-general of the Chirumhanzu Chief’s Trust , Aaron Rwodzi is involved in the sinister charade.

Minister Rwodzi and DCC Chimedza refuted these findings when contacted by The NewsHawks.

“I have no clue with what you are saying. I never interfere with chieftainship as a matter of principle,” said Rwodzi.

When pressed further to clarify if she has not been in touch with Chimedza and Tawanda Chipangura as shown by WhatsApp messages obtained during the investigation, Rwodzi did not respond.

Chimedza said he is a principled public official who is ranked one of the two best in the country and therefore cannot dabble in chieftainship issues.

“It is all lies from Satan. I am not involved in any such scheme. I have never been unprofessional in all my life. I have only been DA in Chirumhanzu for the past three years. How can I influence something that happened five years ago,” he queried.

This was his response notwithstanding the fact that the selection of the substantive chief is due on the 6th of June 2024.

On 6 June, the chiefs council is holding a selection meeting to try solve the impasse and choose substantive chief. The meeting was initially scheduled for Mvuma.

However, Chimedza has since unilaterally shifted the venue from Mvuma to Rutanga, the furthest area in Chirumhanzu which is hardly accessible and has less security for such an event that can degenerate into a conflict given the high tempos at stake.

But Chimedza said there was nothing wrong with that location of the venue because Zimbabwe in its entirety is a peaceful country with the most alert security systems from the army, police and other agents.

In a letter dated 30 May 2024, referenced “Request for maximum security during the provincial chiefs council meeting in Mvuma,” the Chirumhanzu Royal Familes Dare through their lawyers Ruvengo Maboke & Company, however expressed security concerns for the intended 6 June meeting. The letter was addressed to the office of the President in Mvuma.

Part of the letter reads: “Take notice that the above matter is still pending before the High Court and the said Development Trust is being challenge its legality and the matter has been set down can be heard anytime soon.

“However we are advised that the chiefs council is due to come for selection process of substantive Chief Chirumhanzu, our client is concerned with the proposed venue for the said meeting. In short, our client fears for security and safety of its members.

“Kindly can you arrange to have the meeting be held at your offices or some council hall or at any other venue that is safe and secure such that there should be no elements of violence or some unruly individuals to disturb the smooth flow of the process.”

The lawyers said their client preferred  the proper venue at council offices.

“However, we heard that the acting chief has decided that the meeting be held at Rutunga which is not a proper venue. In fact, the acting chief has no power to decide on the venue to be used on the process.

“Take notice that our clients will gather at Churumhanzu rural council offices in Mvuma on 6 June 2024 for the selection process. It is this venue they were advised of as the place for the meeting to take place not Rutunga as unilaterally declared by the acting chief. We anticipated your response thereto.”

The family tree of Chirumhanzu chieftainship that started in 1982 is updated after every 20 years. The last update was given to government on 6 June 2022 and it shows that the next chief must be from Chigegwe family and not Tawanda Chipangura being fronted by Rwodzi because he is not recorded in the 12 sub-houses anchored on Simba and Nherera families that must take the reins on a rotational basis.

On 5 April 2018, the Simba and Nherera families wrote to Chief Ngungumbani, the provincial chiefs councils leader in Midlands setting this record straight.

“According to the practices and customs of our community, as indicated in our family tree, the current chief is supposed to come from the Chigwerwe family, who is the thirds born in Nherera family. Inb order to correct this anomaly, we request the provincial assembly of chiefs to urgently send their delegations to Chirumanzu clan (to verify)…”

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