SENIOR members of the Xhosa royal family and head of the Xhosa Royal Council in Zimbabwe, Prince MacLeod Tshawe Nonxoloba have leapt to the defence of Ntabazinduna Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, who was recently suspended by the Provincial Chiefs’ Council, urging the government to respect the family’s choice.

Ndiweni was suspended as Ntabazinduna chief at a Matabeleland North traditional leaders’ provincial assembly held in Bulawayo last week.

The traditional leaders argued that his chieftainship was being contested in line with Nguni traditions and the Traditional Leaders Act which recognise the first born of the family, Joram as the heir.

Joram filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court over five years ago seeking to block his brother Nhlanhla from taking over from their late father Chief Khayisa Ndiweni, who passed away in 2010.

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Nonxoloba on Friday said Chief Ndiweni was chosen by his people.

“Chief Ndiweni is a chief because he was chosen by the people of Ndiweni and to us in the Xhosa community ithole lenkuzi likhethwa ngabazali balo lapha ekhaya (the bull is chosen from the calves by their owners) not an outsider. If the chief has been chosen by other people who are not in the family, that is unacceptable in our community,” he said.

“In the Tshawe family, we don’t accept such things. Can the Tongas come all the way from their home to tell the people of Ndiweni what to do, or can we leave our home to go and tell Tonga people what to do? I don’t think it’s correct.”

He said government and other traditional leaders should not dabble in the Ndiweni family wrangle. “No one should interfere, the Ndiweni clan are the ones who will have a say whether their child made a mistake or not, or remove the chief from the throne and have a say who can be installed,” he said.

“To claim that only a first born in the family is the heir to the throne, we do not know that, maybe in the Tonga community they do that.”

According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe “… the appointment, removal and suspension of chiefs must be done by the President on the recommendation of the provincial assembly of chiefs through the National Council of Chiefs and the minister responsible for traditional leaders and in accordance with the traditional practices and traditions of the communities concerned”.