By Daniel Nemukuyu
The High Court has confirmed Mr Boniface Musara as substantive chief for Ward 32, Masvingo East, putting to rest a protracted wrangle that dates back to the colonial era.
Wards 32 and 8 of Victoria East used to be under Chief Musara during the pre-colonial era, but when the settlers grabbed the land for commercial farming, the chieftainship was banished.
The land reform programme resulted in new farmers being resettled in the area and the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing resuscitated the Musara chieftainship.
Mr Musara was appointed substantive chief for that area. However, the neighbouring traditional leader, Chief Kadiwa Chikwanda challenged the decision, saying Ward 32 fell under his leadership.
Chief Chikwanda in 2014 approached the High Court contesting a proclamation that Ward 32 fell under the jurisdiction of Chief Musara. A provisional order was granted in Chief Chikwanda’s favour, setting aside the proclamation.
However, the parties last week argued on whether or not the provisional order nullifying the presidential proclamation could be confirmed.
High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri heard the matter and discharged the provisional order. He confirmed the presidential proclamation appointing Mr Musara as the substantive chief of the disputed area.
The order of the court reads: “The application for confirmation of the provisional order granted by this Honourable Court be and is hereby dismissed.
“The provisional order granted by this court is discharged. This court holds that the proclamation of Ward 32 under the jurisdiction of the third defendant (Bonface Musara) be and is hereby declared valid,” ruled Justice Phiri.
The court also slapped Chief Chikwanda with an order for costs on a punitive scale. Chief Chikwanda was at one point warned by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing against ignoring the boundaries and interfering with the powers of Chief Musara.
The ministry even threatened the chief with arrest if he continued disregarding the boundaries. Chief Chikwanda disputed Chief Musara’s installation in 2014, claiming the area now under the Musara chieftainship was part of his land.
The dispute between the two chiefs almost degenerated into violence between their subjects as the two traditional leaders sought to assert their authority over the contested area.
Chief Musara of the Shumba totem was formerly a headman under Chief Chikwanda of the Moyo totem before he was upgraded to a full chief last year.
President Mugabe installed Chief Musara, restoring the Musara chieftainship that was banished by the colonial regime in the 1940s. Chief Chikwanda refused to accept Musara’s chieftainship, insisting he was the sole chief in the area.