Chief Mtshane Khumalo elected National Chiefs Council president

CHIEF Mtshane Khumalo from Bubi District in Matabeleland North province has been elected as the new president of the Chiefs Council, replacing long-serving leader, Chief Fortune Charumbira from Masvingo province.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) presided over the election that saw Chief Charumbira becoming deputy to Khumalo following a smooth transition of power. Chief Mtshane Khumalo takes over the presidency at a time when the Government has mandated the traditional leaders to lead the resolution of the Gukurahundi disturbances through hearings and his immediate task now will be to vigorously pursue the matter.

Chiefs Mtshane and Charumbira become the first to secure seats in Parliament while the election for the remaining 16 seats will be held on 24 August 2023.

Chief Fortune Charumbira

Chief Mtshane is the great-grandson of the revered Ndebele military tactician, General Mtshana  Khumalo who was the commander of King Lobengula’s Imbizo regiment that defeated the colonialist, Allan Wilson Patrol, at the Battle of Pupu on December 4, 1893 as the first shots of resistance against colonialism were fired.

Chief Mtshane Khumalo and Chief Charumbira were elected unopposed after no other nomination papers were received in respect of the president and vice president. The presiding officer, Mr James Chidamba, declared the two as duly elected at the close of the nomination process.

In his acceptance speech, Chief Mtshane Khumalo pledged to pursue reforms to the law and improve the institution of traditional leaders.

“We shall work as a team not only between me and the vice president but between us and everyone else so that we keep the momentum that has been going on among us for the past 10 years,” he said. 

“I promise I will do that in my capacity as president of the National Chiefs Council. We still have outstanding elections to represent this institution in Senate. How I wish that you all come back to continue where we left. 

“There are a lot of things we have to deal with and one thing that comes to my mind is the alignment of the Traditional Leaders Act with the Constitution, even the revisit to the Constitution itself, the terms of office for the president and VP. I feel strongly we should revisit those two, the Constitution that gives term limits to the president and VP of the National Chiefs Council,” said Chief Mtshane Khumalo.

Chief Charumbira pledged to continue working well with Chief Mtshane, adding his election will give him the energy to work for the improvement of the institution of traditional leaders.

“What is significant in this election is that I am happy that Chief Mtshane Khumalo has taken over as the president of the Chiefs Council. I think that is the right thing to have happened for the country at this moment. 

“He is the right person to be president of this institution. I want to say thank you for expressing confidence in him and at the same time seeing it fit that I still work close to him after I had personally announced that I was not standing as president and was proposing my deputy to lead,” said Chief Charumbira. 

“You have seen it fit that I work with him in the manner that I have worked with him before as deputy. More significantly it is me who nominated him.

“It’s a culture that we may need to build in this country and across Africa and everywhere. The issue of succession is problematic, you know it better. In this case, we did it smoothly. For record purpose, when I became president, the person who nominated me was my predecessor Chief Mangwende. 

“We have carried over that culture, I was also elected unopposed and today I have nominated Chief Khumalo and we want to build on that even in the future.”

Chief Charumbira said traditional leaders were not politicians who tussle for positions for five years as they have their own positions that have no contestation. He said it was encouraging to note that the election was incident free.

“You hear a lot of stories on succession, in this country, our President was almost arrested, he had to leave the country before he returned to lead. So, I did not need to fight my vice president for him to take over me,” said Chief Charumbira. 

“It was openly done in an amicable way. I have worked with him for years and we will continue working mutually together, we were just equals there was no boss.”

He said he has held the position of deputy before and he will not have problems in assuming it this time around.

The retention of Chief Charumbira in the Chiefs Council and in Parliament effectively guarantees him to continue with his position as president of Pan African Parliament, a continental legislative assembly.

“The confidence that you have given us gave us greater energy to work for traditional leaders. When you re-elect me like this it means my post at Pan African Parliament will remain and I am also indebted to President Mnangagwa who supported me immensely and I am sure the President himself will equally be happy,” said Chief Charumbira.

In separate interviews yesterday, fellow chiefs from Matabeleland region said the elevation of Chief Mtshane Khumalo was a demonstration of the Second Republic’s inclusiveness and commitment to leaving no one and no place behind on national developmental issues.

Chief Shana from Hwange, one of the longest-serving chiefs in the region said the inclusiveness being advocated for has now come full circle and confirms that traditional leaders know no boundaries, unlike some political players.

“We have always been saying time and again that the presidency of the Chiefs Council must sort of rotate because as chiefs we are not politicians and what has happened is really a confirmation that we are one people whose destiny is not determined by political borders,” he said. 

“The coming of the presidency to this region as has happened is an exciting development for us here and indeed the country as a whole,” said Chief Shana.

Chief Masendu from Mangwe District said the development shows the unity and tolerance that exist within traditional leaders in the country adding that it was also a milestone noting that since Chief Jeremiah Chirau and Chief Jonathan Mangwende, there has never been a president coming from this region.

“The inclusiveness being preached and practiced by the Second Republic, as led by President Mnangagwa through his philosophy of no one and no place will be left behind is manifesting even among the traditional leadership in this country,” he said. 

“If you check we are only two provinces but all the provinces came behind Chief Mtshane Khumalo. As chiefs from Matabeleland, we value this development and the confidence that has been placed in Chief Mtshane Khumalo. I have no doubt that he will be up to the task and I would like to congratulate him on his new post.”

Chief Sitaudze from Beitbridge who is a member of the National Chiefs Council said Chief Mtshane Khumalo has great experience in leading the council as he has served as the deputy president for two terms. 

He said the experience that Chief Mtshane Khumalo has is crucial for strengthening the Chiefs’ institution, adding that Chief Mtshane Khumalo’s leadership will help nurture young chiefs who have just joined the Chiefs Council.

“The wisdom and experience, which Chief Mtshane Khumalo has will act as a beacon, especially for young chiefs like myself who have just joined the Chiefs Council. “We will learn a lot from him and this will help to build us in becoming better chiefs in the future,” said Chief Sitaudze.

Chief director in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Mr Felix Chikovo commended traditional leaders saying he hoped that the forthcoming 23 August 2023 harmonised elections will incident free.

The event was attended by ZEC Commissioners led by Deputy Chairperson Commissioner, Rodney Kiwa and senior Government officials.

Pupu is where King Lobengula’s warriors killed 32 of 33 colonial forces led by Major Allan Wilson in 1893. When King Lobengula heard that his warriors had been defeated by the colonial forces in the battle at Bonko by the Shangani River and Gadade in Mbembesi, he ordered the burning down of the royal town as per tradition and fled towards Shangani River accompanied by a force of between 2 000 and 3000 men.

The colonial forces assembled an army of 33 men to go in pursuit of the king and capture him, only to meet their fate in Pupu in the hands of the Ndebele warriors under the command of Gen Khumalo.

Major Wilson, the loser, was honored by the settler regime and the legacy is there for all to see but, Gen Khumalo, the victor had not.

The Second Republic has since resolved to review the list of national monuments to include the Pupu Battlefield National Monument and the monument was set for commissioning by President Mnangagwa but the event was postponed to a later date.


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