Chief Nhlanhla Ndiweni has launched a campaign to save Ntabazinduna Mountain in Matabeleland North province from being illegally parceled out under the guise of the land reform programme.
His campaign was motivated by the government’s plan to evict a white commercial farmer, Brian Davies, from Tabas Induna Farm.
The outspoken chief argues Ntabazinduna holds historical value as it is the birthplace for the Ndebele nation, but its significance is now under threat by the eviction being spearheaded by the Umguza district council’s lands committee.
Should the eviction go ahead, Chief Ndiweni said he would lobby for the West to tighten sanctions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Chief Ndiweni said the Parsons and Davies families, who own the farm, were of Ntabazinduna as they had coexisted well with locals.
Parsons are the family who were behind the brand Colcom, noted the paramount chief.
“The land committee has apportioned land to one Mr Ambrose and he is only a front man, we know there are others hiding behind him. I use the word corruption because we have evidence for that and will duly be provided to you in a few weeks’ time when we gather at the top of the mountain,” Ndiweni told journalists at the Bulawayo Media Centre on Friday.
The paramount chief noted that he would lead the charge (Imbizo) on May 18 in Ntabazinduna as part of Save Ntabazinduna Mountain campaign.
“Ntabazinduna encapsulates so many issues that show the rot we are having to face. Our preparations are now in advance that the event is streamed internationally,” he said.
Chief Ndiweni stressed his fight was not about the white farmer but was motivated by the greed of individuals within Zanu PF who wanted to destroy the legacy of the mountain.
“I’m not talking about the high level of morality for the land reform programme, we are talking about base corruption, something all of you will disagree with and reject. This about a few individuals who want to give each other land for favours earned in political parties. At this time, it is Zanu PF and that is where it comes from,” he alleged.
President Mnangagwa has repeatedly said he would deal with corruption but Chief Ndiweni claimed the corruption at Ntabazinduna Mountain speaks to how false those promises have been.
He noted that he has spent four years engaging the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, generating a lot of paperwork to alert officials to the rot but that had been to no avail.
As a result, he no longer has a desire to engage with the authorities but would take decisive action so that they “back off.”
He added: “We are incredibly angry that this administration has adopted a most arrogant posture and that disqualifies it completely from high office they currently occupy. I as a traditional leader whose job entitles me as Chief Ndiweni to look after, protect, maintain the customs, practices and norms of our people I find what they have done an affront and there’s no excuse whatsoever.
“I’ve done my work, been up to see the Minister of Lands three or four times at my expense and written countless documents to his offices. He has chosen to sit on his hands, so for me I’m saying let the campaign begin. It will be bruising, difficult and yes its effects will touch the whole nation. We have to start somewhere to claw back common sense, bring rationality to everyday living.”
He added that his father, the late Chief Khayisa, had protected the land at Ntabazinduna for 77 years and likewise he would do the same.
Chief Ndiweni called on the United States President Donald Trump’s government to immediately increase and tighten sanctions and travel restrictions they applied against the Mnangagwa administration.
“We have in place point persons in Washington D.C, London and Europe to engage those particular organisations who have been speaking about Zimbabwe. Those organisations which the current administration is trying to engage. Our agenda is simple: we need to bring common sense to many issues that start with Ntabazinduna Mountain and so we are openly asking those institutions to increase sanctions they brought against this administration.
“We’re asking those institutions to increase the travel restrictions they brought against this administration. We want to make sure that common senses comes into play because the sanctions they imposed were miniscule. Do not be beguiled by the notion that sanctions have brought Zimbabwe to a standstill. That is a fallacy, it has no truth in it whatsoever; these are targeted sanctions and targeted restrictions.”
The chief wondered why authorities were so lax when it came to historical monuments, saying it was puzzling that in 2019, Zimbabwe had not even given Ntabazinduna Mountain legislative protection when it has held historical meaning to the Ndebele people.
“How is it that a mountain can be treated so appallingly, as to be thrust deep within the land reform process to be given away at will and whim to anyone who comes? Clearly, to anyone who engages in political corruption. If such were to happen elsewhere, people would be up in arms but here we seem to accept. I don’t mean this for the general populace but for the current administration,” he said.
Ntabazinduna (Hill of the Chiefs) holds special significance in the history of Ndebele people. It was there that King Mzilikazi set up the capital of his kingdom, kwaBulawayo, after the long trek from KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.
A popular belief is that he was directed specifically to the flat top hill, with two conical hills aside it, by spirit mediums.