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Tourism Minister ‘Barbara Rwodzi’ Entangled in Chirumhanzu Chieftainship Dispute

Tourism Minister 'Barbara Rwodzi' Entangled in Chirumhanzu Chieftainship Dispute

Environment and Tourism Minister Barbara Rwodzi has become embroiled in a contentious dispute over the chieftainship of Chirumhanzu.

Allegations have surfaced accusing her of promoting a relative outside the royal family lineage to assume the chieftainship, which has been in dispute for the past five years.

Chief Chirumhanzu, also known as Gerald Mudzengi, passed away on February 5, 2019. His son, Gerald Mudzengi Jr., was appointed acting chief, a position intended to be temporary until a permanent chief could be installed. However, no permanent chief has been chosen since then.

According to the traditional succession plan, the Chigegwe family is next in line for the chieftainship, following a sequence outlined in the royal family tree.

This succession plan was reiterated during a meeting of the Chirumhanzu chieftainship royal families on November 4, 2022. The minutes from this meeting highlighted the importance of adhering to the established family tree when appointing headmen and chiefs.

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Part of the minutes read: “The chairperson, Mr. Jumo, advised the meeting that when selecting members for Headmen posts, try to respect the family tree.

He reiterated the sequence of selection after the Acting period, as indicated under the process, with Chieftainship slotted for Chigegwe Sub-house going to Mudzengi, Chapanya’s eldest son, Mudzengi Dominic, who was present and consented that a younger person, act in his capacity.

He nominated Julius Chimbi Chigegwe. In Nherera House from Chigegwe, Chieftainship will go straight to Chimunye as a way of completing the first Phase of Chieftainship.”

The vision for the Chirumhanzu chieftainship includes ensuring unity among the Chirumhanzu people, orderly transitions of leadership, and equitable distribution of resources and land.

However, Minister Rwodzi is accused of obstructing this process. Allegations suggest she is collaborating with Fortunate Chimedza, the Chirumhanzu District Committee Coordinator, to install her elder brother, Tawanda Chipangura, as the new chief.

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Reports indicate Rwodzi has been in frequent communication with Chimedza and Chipangura regarding this matter. Additionally, Aaron Rwodzi, a senior member of the Rwodzi family and brother of the late minister’s husband, is implicated in these efforts.

Minister Rwodzi and DCC Chimedza have denied these accusations. Rwodzi stated, “I have no clue with what you are saying. I never interfere with chieftainship as a matter of principle.”

When asked about her communications with Chimedza and Chipangura, Rwodzi did not respond. Chimedza, in defense, asserted, “It is all lies from Satan. I am not involved in any such scheme.

I have never been unprofessional in all my life. I have only been DA in Chirumhanzu for the past three years. How can I influence something that happened five years ago?”

Also read: Chivayo Claims Control Over Mnangagwa, Secures Million-Dollar Deals

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The chiefs’ council is scheduled to meet on June 6, 2024, to resolve the chieftainship dispute. This meeting, initially planned for Mvuma, has been controversially relocated by Chimedza to Rutanga, a remote and less secure area.

The Chirumhanzu Royal Families have expressed security concerns regarding this change and have requested that the meeting be held at a safer location in Mvuma.

In a letter dated May 30, 2024, the royal families, through their lawyers, Ruvengo Maboke & Company, expressed these concerns to the President’s office in Mvuma, highlighting the pending High Court challenge against the Chirumhanzu Development Trust and urging for the meeting to be held at a secure location to prevent any potential violence.

The Chirumhanzu chieftainship, which updates its family tree every 20 years, last did so on June 6, 2022. This update confirms that the next chief should come from the Chigegwe family, not Tawanda Chipangura, who is being supported by Rwodzi.

The Simba and Nherera families, which play key roles in the succession process, have written to the provincial chiefs’ council leader, Chief Ngungumbani, to affirm this lineage and request verification from the provincial assembly of chiefs.

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