By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Oh dear, oh dear… so we are not to have an Ndebele King and there shall be no coronation after all… There we were, all getting ready for this magnanimous event, dusting off the cow hide shields and sharpening and polishing our assegais. Goodness, we were even refreshing our favourite war dance steps, and songs, Mushongoyo, Isitshikitsha, Amabhiza and Ingquza, when someone goes and declares the coronation unconstitutional. I mean what a party pooper.
Before the ruling, July Moyo, Minister of Local Government et al, simply could not handle this hot potato, typically declaring an indaba (meeting) of traditional leaders sub judice and awaiting the outcome of the Court. Seems to many, that the President of the Chief’s Council, Fortune Charumbira, may not have been comfortable with the concept of a traditional king slotting into a higher position than himself. Like all threatened filthy politicians, for that is the best way to label them, he too deferred to the Court. Besides they didn’t want to be seen to be usurping King Emmerson in any way.
Now here is the irony… Zimbabwe’s Constitution states unreservedly that there is a place for traditional leaders, dedicating an entire chapter to this. Its purpose is to uphold traditional values, administer and protect the environment… honourable tasks. What could be more traditional then, than an Ndebele or, for that matter, a Shona King? If truth be known, traditional Kings would dominate the Chiefs, and the politicians will not be wanting any of that!
The Constitution does not refer to Kings, yet both the great Shona and Ndebele cultures evolved from tangible Kingdoms stretching back to Mapungubwe and the Mutapa. Of course you may understand the fear of today’s spineless politicians being appropriated by any king, because our culture does not understand titular position without absolute authority, but then Robert was king and no man should have set him asunder from the throne (well, until the coup, that is).
In fact there is an Act of Parliament styled the Traditional Leaders Act, promulgated in 1998. Sensibly, like most legislation, it hung onto the structure and administration that had been nurtured and refined by the Rhodesians, on the backs of our colonial heritage. Back then of course, the District Commissioner was king and the Chiefs were very much on the RF political pedestal!
So too in modern Zimbabwe the District Administrator is king, or rather the not quite so important chef, between tending to their businesses and doing what the party demands of them, mostly kowtowing to the one who thought he was king! Of course Zimbabweans have always done it better in buttering up to or patronising their chiefs… they are all recipients of the latest and greatest 4×4 vehicles and other gratuitous gifts specifically to curry political favour. Patronage in one word, which ultimate sees to the demise of democracy.
Thus, the concept of a kingdom and traditional kings seems a little too much for weak minded, mealie mouthed politicians to cope with. Yet, it is they who harp on ad infinitum about maintaining traditional Zimbabwean values and goodness knows they are quick to remind us how colonialism came along and messed it all up. Now here we have an instance of the Khumalo clan or dynasty attempting to resurrect their traditional leadership and everybody is, seemingly, ducking for cover. It would seem this is a hot potato which will not be cooling any time soon. Put your spears and assegais back in the cabinet.
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