The installation of Chief Manguba of Bulilima, Matabeleland South, is long overdue, community members and their local leaders have said.
The Manguba chieftainship is one of the BaKalanga chieftainships which were dethroned by the colonial regime, which imposed Ndebele chiefs in Bulilima and Mangwe, which are predominantly Kalanga territories.
The other abolished chieftainships include Hikwa of Dombodema, Hingwe, Tjingababili, Habe and many others some of which have been resuscitated by the current government.
Some Kalanga chieftainships which have been revived include, Masendu and Madlambudzi in Bulilima and Hobodo and Tjankuluba (Sangulube) in Mangwe.
The government efforts to resuscitate Kalanga chieftainships began as early as 2006 resulting in some chiefs being installed in the respective areas.
However, for Chief Manguba that has not happened despite the groundwork having been done and raising hopes among Bulilima villagers.
What could have contributed to the delay in the Manguba issue is the fact that three wards – Ward 5 (Matjinge), Ward 6 (Gala) and 8 (Huwana) which are supposed to be taken over by Headman Manguba should he be elevated chief currently fall under the jurisdiction of Chief Gampu of Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North, who probably would not easily let go of the area.
The concerns of Bulilima villagers over the years pressed to have their own substantive traditional leader have been that their chief does not sit in the Matabeleland South provincial chiefs’ assembly since he is in Matabeleland North, therefore, rendering them as people without a representative.
Chief Gampu and his family who at first were not supportive of the idea at long last yielded to pressure.
However, in a twist of events, the Chief Gampu family has written a letter to the Ministry of Local Government requesting that someone from their family be appointed chief in Bulilima in the place of Manguba.
In their letter dated 21 August 2022 and bearing the chief’s official stamp and signature, the family said: “It is with this realization that the entire Gampu family have reached a consensus of resolving the above normally by proposing that the Matabeleland South Chief Gampu’s area of jurisdiction be led by one of our appointed members within the Gampu family and Matabeleland North jurisdiction remain within the chieftaincy of the incumbent Chief Gampu IV. In this way, the ancestral home and graveyards of the Gampu family will remain forever protected by one of our own.”
Bulilima West legislator, Dingumuzi Phuti said it is important for the Manguba chieftainship to be restored because it existed before.
“BuKalanga people, people of Bulilima District want their chief restored like yesterday; it’s long overdue,” he said
“We are calling for the installation of our chiefs – Chief Luswina of Tjingababili, Chief Hikwa in Dombodema and many more. The story of Manguba is opening a can of worms. It is indicating that there were long hidden things that may erupt anytime into the entire nation’s face.”
Phuti said the issue was not in any way tribalistic.
“Chief Manguba is long overdue for installation,” further decried Phuti.
“We cannot say this any louder. We are not being tribalistic, we are not being selective, we are just being factual. It is something there for anyone and everyone to see.”
Matabeleland South Provincial Council of Chiefs chairman, Chief Masendu told CITE that they had also received a letter from the Gampu chieftaincy.
“Years back the people of Manguba sat down and discussed problems they are facing as a result of being under Chief Gampu who resides in Matabeleland North when they are in Matabeleland South,” said Chief Masendu.
“The government considered that and a delegation from the Ministry of Local Government came down to Manguba and we were also invited. There were also representatives from the Office of the DA and there were talks between the affected communities and representatives from Chief Gampu.”
He said it was then resolved that Headman Manguba (Morning Manguba Moyo be upgraded to a chief.
“During that particular year there was a serious drought and people were getting food handouts from the government through chiefs,” further explained Chief Masendu.
“So, whatever was meant for Chief Gampu was consumed there in Mat North.
Villagers also felt they were lagging behind in development as a result of not having a resident chief and Chief Gampu also accepted that.
Chief Masendu’s requisite paperwork from the DA’s office to the Provincial and National Councils of Chiefs and to the Ministry of Local Government paving way for Manguba’s installation was also completed years back.
“Yes, we have seen the letter from Chief Gampu but we are still looking forward to the installation of Manguba as chief; we have not received anything contrary to that from the government.”
He added: “We do not know the government’s current position on this, because people were promised that Manguba would be installed chief. We would want to see things being done properly while at the same time people’s cultures being respected.
A member of the Manguba family who requested that his name be not mentioned for fear of victimisation said the affected villagers felt abandoned by the leadership.
“People feel that they are in no man’s land because whatever happens in Mat South Provincial Council of Chiefs, their chief will not be there,” he said, adding villagers were opposed to Chief Gampu’s proposal.
“I am Moyo and the Gampu people are Sitholes,” he said.
“Some of the Gampu family members are in ward 5. What causes noise is that this place belongs to BaKalanga while the Gampu people have always isolated themselves as Nguni.”
He added: “How come they want to rule us even in their minority? In the whole of Bulilima there is no Moyo chief and this is not going down well with the people.
Chief Gampu however refused to comment on the issue.
“Please don’t write anything about that letter; the President has not signed anything and has not said anything about it,” he said.
“How did you see it? That is a very sensitive issue; just wait for the President to first speak. I don’t want to comment on something that has not been discussed by our elders at the top. I plead with you please! This is a very sensitive issue which should not be in the newspapers. I don’t want to comment on that. I don’t want to.”
However, in February this year, Bulilima East legislator, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said he had met with Local Government Minister, July Moyo on the Manguba issue, who assured him the issue would be finalised soon.
“I recently met Minister Moyo on the Chief Manguba issue and I am happy to say that the proclamation will come from President Mnangagwa soon,” said Ndlovu.
“The process is in line with the new constitution.”