The wrangle for the Menyezwa chieftainship in Lupane rages on with six houses of the Gumede family supporting the instalment of Sandras Gumede as chief while government officials have been accused of meddling by pushing for the instalment of Meluleki Gumede.
Sandras was born in 1994 to the late Chief Menyezwa and Judith Gumede while Meluleki is said to be the late Chief’s son with another woman.
The Menyezwa chieftainship has been vacant since the death of Chief Johnson Menyezwa Gumede in 2013.
His younger brother Constantine Moses Gumede has been acting as chief since then and the family has been chastised by the community and the National Council of Chiefs for failing to appoint a new leader.
In a statement issued in June this year, the family stated they had been in mourning but would name a new chief in August.
When August arrived, the family announced they had suffered another tragedy, as their heir apparent had lost his twin brother in July, further delaying the process.
The family, on the other hand, alleged that one Mxolisi, who was raised by the chief but was not his biological son, plotted with the Lupane Development District Coordinator (DDC), Ennety Sithole, to depose their chosen representative and spokesperson without their knowledge.
“Mxolisi had a hidden agenda to be in charge of the chieftainship. We have it on record that the so-called new candidate Meluleki has a pact to allow Mxolisi to be acting Chief as he continues with his career in town. This is how Meluleki had the backing of the Mxolisi group at the May 25 2021 meeting,” said the family spokesperson, Lizwe Gumede.
Meluleki was born to a mistress whom the late chief met while working in town, said the family members.
Sandras was chosen in 2017, according to the family, at the first meeting with Lupane officials and the chiefs’ council led by Chief Mathuphula.
However, on May 25, 2021, a second selection meeting was held at Guga Primary School, chaired by Chief Siphoso Dlodlo, and Meluleki was declared the rightful chief.
Chief Menyezwa’s widow filed a High Court application in Bulawayo, HC1740/21, to overturn that process.
She was successful, and a court order was issued, setting aside the proceedings of that meeting in June 2022.
According to the Gumede family, the DDC is resisting the court order, claiming it was issued in error, and will instead install Meluleki.
“The DDC has even attempted to stifle dissenting voices from the legal wife and other family members,” said the family spokesperson.
The family insists Sandras is the legitimate heir, and the six houses of the late Chief Mazwi, father of the late Chief Menyezwa, back them up.
“We the offsprings of the six houses of the late Chief Mazwi Gumede the father of the late Chief Menyezwa fully support candidature of Mr Sandras Gumede, son of the late Chief Johnson Gumede to the Menyezwa Chieftainship as per the Mathupula commission of 6 October 2017,” said the family.
The family said the six Chief Mazwi Houses and their representatives are:
Makhumalo House -Menyezwa – Jerome Gumede
Makhumalo House Sibhensa Phillip Gumede
Masiwela House Tutu – Augustine Samson Gumede
Makhumalo House Congo – Sibusiwe Gumede
Manzina House Sigudu Themba Gumede
Makhumalo House Magona – Limos Gumede.
“Initially 10 of the Gumede houses were present on October 9, 2022, when Sandras was endorsed at the start of the process. At the last meeting, the representatives of some of these houses failed to attend the meeting either due to short notice while others had commitments. So, the six houses are the ones that attended,” said the family sources.
The family alleged the DDC was moving around and introducing their preferred new chief including in Zanu PF meetings while they were unaware.
“We have since communicated our decision as a family and signed for Sandras Gumede, who was nominated by all six Gumede Houses, to be our rightful chief. No action or advice is being given as to when they will install him as chief but instead, we see the DA introducing someone who was ruled out of being imposed as our chief even by a court order where Sandras won the case and the court said they tried to replace him unlawfully,” said the family.
Contacted for comment, the DDC said she was “not allowed to comment.”
“Only the Chief’s Council has the final word,” Sithole said.
Deputy President of the National Chief’s Council, Chief Mtshane Khumalo, said the DDC cannot meddle in such issues especially when the provincial assembly has sat to discuss the matter.
“The provincial assembly makes a recommendation, then passes on decision to the Chiefs council who approves. The DDC has nothing to say after the Chief’s council has approved that recommendation from the province. The office of the DDC is only a secretariat to the provincial assembly. How do you expect a secretariat to be the one that raises issues?” he said.