OWEN MATAVA recently in Mvuma
Former Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo’s skeletons at the Local Government ministry have continued tumbling out of the cabinet amid revealations that a headman he unprocedurally appointed in Mvuma area under Chief Chirumanzu has caused much trouble and headaches to the Acting Chief, Fidelis Mudzengi, claiming to be untouchable while interfering with the Acting Chief’s work especially in the resettlement areas in Mvuma, midlandsnews can exclusively reveal.
The headman, Clive Makusha, known as Headman Chimbi has come under fire for allegedly undermining Mudzengi’s authority by appointing several village heads without the consent of the chief as required at law, while already calling himself paramount chief for the area. It is alleged Makusha connived with former District Development Coordinator for Mvuma Vafios Hlabati to facilitate the appointments. Hlabati has since been transferred to Mberengwa following the expiry of his six months suspension in September 2021 for abuse of office charges.
Impeccable sources told midlandsnews that Mudzengi has written several times to the Local Government ministry seeking to discipline the headman over alleged misconduct but to no avail.
According to sources, authorities fear the move to either reprimand or suspend Headman Chimbi would potentially unearth a trail of corrupt activities by top officials in the Ministry, including the appointment of the said headman together with the illegal appointment of about twenty three village heads in ungazzetted areas in Mvuma town.
A source confirmed that the twenty three village heads have been on the government payroll for more than twelve months.
“Yes there are about twenty or so village heads without known jurisdictions who have been receiving their monthly salaries for more than a year now”, said a source declining to be named for professional reasons.
Chombo appointed Clive Makusha as Headman Chimbi, under Chief Chirumanzu in March 2015 under controversial circumstances, while Fidelis Mudzengi was appointed Acting Chief Chirumanzu by President Mnangagwa in May 2021 following the demise of his father, Gerald Mudzengi in 2019. Gerald Mudzengi was appointed substantive Chief Chirumanzu sometime in 2005.
According to sources, Chombo appointed Makusha albeit without an area of jurisdiction through a proxy, Michael Mariga, then Mvuma district adminstrator who together with Makusha allegedly forged an affidavit purportedly signed by the late Mudzengi authorising the appointment. The area in question is yet to be gazzetted as a requirement for its emplacement under traditional leadership.
Commenting on the appointment, a local government official at head office who preferred anonimity noted,
“The appointment in question was fundamentally ultra vires the dictates of the guiding legal instrument, Traditional Leaders Act Chapter 29:17, which clearly states that it is such gazette by the government which paves way for the emplacement of resettlement areas under traditional leadership. In the absence of the gazette, the appointment is deemed irregular”.
The timing of Makusha’s appointment has raised eyebrows among political speculators, who widely believe that the beleaguered G40 members through Chombo intended to make Makusha their political ‘fixer’ to infiltrate into known Mnangagwa’s political stronghold of Chirumanzu.
Makusha also stands accused of providing funding to a faction of the royal family opposed to Mudzengi called Chirumanzu Royal Family (Dare) led by his nephew, Julius Chigegwe, while facilitating their meetings with top government officials in the local government ministry including Deputy Minister, Marian Chombo.
The faction seeks to topple Mudzengi before the end of his term, to enable Makusha spread his influence as well as extend his area of jurisdiction in anticipation of winning the chieftainship control in the resettlements. Also, the faction has allegedly established parallel traditional leadership structures in these áreas.
Meanwhile, the royal council of elders of Chirumanzu have applied to the Local Government Minister, July Moyo to consider the creation of a Mudzengi Chieftaincy as a means to fix traditional leadership problems bedevilling the resettlement areas in Chirumanzu.
Several attempts to get a comment from the responsible Minister, Moyo hit a brick wall as his mobile phone went unanswered.