BULAWAYO High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva has nullified the nomination of Saunders Mlotshwa as substantive Chief Mvuthu of Hwange district, saying it is unlawful, null and void.
BY SILAS NKALA
Saunders was nominated by the family of the late Chief Mvuthu, born Nyangayezizwe Mlotshwa of Monde in the district following his death in March 2014.
After his death, Bishop Matata Sibanda acted as chief for four years before the family protested, leading to the nomination of Saunders as chief to succeed his late brother.
But the late chief’s daughter, Silibaziso Mlotshwa (24) challenged the nomination, arguing that she should take over the chieftaincy.
In her application filed at the Bulawayo High Court, through her lawyers, Thulani Ndlovu and Advocate Perpetua Dube Silibaziso cited the Hwange district administrator (now district development co-ordinator (DDC)) and Saunders as respondents.
In his ruling on June 25, Justice Takuva said the application was for a mandamus seeking to compel the DDC to act according to the law and the Constitution.
“The application is not about the resolution of a dispute as to who should be appointed as the substantive chief Mvuthu, it is about compelling the first respondent (DDC) as a public official to take action which he is at law obliged to take and issue lawful recommendations in terms of the law and the Constitution,” Takuva said.
“The applicant is the eldest daughter of the late Chief Mvuthu Mlotshwa who was the substantive chief of Mvuthu area in Hwange until his death in 2014. As the Chief Mvuthu is survived only by three daughters and applicant being the eldest, she claims to be the next in line of succession to the Mvuthu chieftainship which is lineal.”
Takuva said what was baffling was that notwithstanding Saunders’ spirited challenge on the authenticity of the nomination process he nevertheless wanted to cling to the minutes of the meeting which nominated him.
“The second respondent (Saunders)’s conduct is so grossly unreasonable that it actually exposes the fallacy and mala fides of his entire opposition. If the minutes do not reflect the correct position of the deliberations, then a faritoriri, the need for reconvening a consultative meeting where full and accurate minutes would be recorded cumulating top lawful recommendations to the President ,” Takuva ruled.
“As such I find the second respondent’s conduct unreasonable, mala fide and an abuse of court process. In the premise, the application for mandamus is granted on the following terms, that second respondent’s recommendations to the Mvuthu family on December 21, 2014 of nominating the second respondent as the appointee to the Mvuthu chieftainship be and is hereby declared unlawful, null and void.”
Takuva compelled the DDC to convene a meeting for the selection of the chief within 60 days of granting of the order in accordance with section 3 of the Traditional Leaders Act and the Constitution. He ordered the same to make lawful recommendations of the nominee to the President in accordance with the law.
“The second respondent be and is hereby ordered to pay costs of suit at an attorney client scale,” Takuva ruled.
Silibaziso had submitted that on December 21, 2014 the DDC convened a meeting for the nomination of the substantive chief and on account of gender her uncle Saunders was seconded by the DDC to be chief prompting her to file a court challenge, arguing that she was the rightful heir to the position.
However, Saunders opposed the application saying it failed to establish the requirements of the mandamus indicating that the DDC performed his duties according to statutes and had no discretion beyond presiding over the nomination meeting.
He said the DDC was simply following the wishes and established traditional customs of the Mvuthu clan.