The High Court yesterday blocked the planned coronation of Mr Bulelani Collen Lobengula Khumalo as King of the Ndebele on grounds that there was no law in the country allowing the establishment of a monarch.
The coronation was scheduled for today.
The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese follows an urgent chamber application by Chief Mathema, challenging the Government’s decision to declare the coronation illegal and unconstitutional.
In papers before the court, Chief Mathema, in his capacity as the chairperson of the Royal Crown Trust, cited Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, the officer commanding police in Bulawayo Province Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Mutamba and the officer commanding ZRP Bulawayo West District Chief Superintendent Marshal Dube as respondents.
Justice Makonese ruled that there was no law in Zimbabwe allowing the establishment of a monarch.
On Wednesday, Minister Moyo urged those organising the coronation of Mr Bulelani Lobengula as the Ndebele King to stop as this was illegal.
The minister, in a letter addressed to one of the organisers, Chief Mathema, said the coronation was unconstitutional and illegal. The lawyer representing Chief Mathema, Mr Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, said the judge advised the applicants to consider lobbying relevant authorities for necessary amendments to the Constitution if they wished to pursue their plans.
“The judge said there are no relevant constitutional provisions for the coronation of a King in Zimbabwe.
“He said it would be difficult for him as a constitutional officer to go against the word of his office. He said what needs to be done is to first lobby the Government and have necessary amendments to the Constitution. So, in essence, the court said there is no coronation that will take place,” he said.
Chief Mathema sought an order suspending a directive by the minister and police banning the cultural event, which was scheduled to take place today.
He also wanted an order interdicting the respondents from unlawfully interfering with the rights of the chiefs and traditional leaders in exercising their cultural rights in terms of Sections 63, 282 and 283 of the Constitution, as read with Section 5 of the Traditional Leaders Act.
In his founding affidavit, Chief Mathema said the respondents interfered with their Constitutional rights, saying their actions were irrational and illegal.
“I submit that the proclamations by the respondents are irrational, unreasonable and a legal nullity which is outside their jurisdiction and in violation of the Constitution,” he said.
On November 9 last year, the Royal Crown Trust on behalf of relevant chiefs and traditional leaders issued a Press statement announcing the date of the coronation. They then wrote a letter to Chief Supt Dube as regulating authority under Public Order and Security Act (POSA) informing him about their plan to hold an installation ceremony for Bulelani at Barbourfields Stadium.
Chief Supt sent a communiqué on February 27 instructing the applicants to stop the event, which he said was illegal and unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, Mthwakazi Republican Party activists were yesterday involved in running battles with anti-riot police at the front of the High Court.
During the skirmishes, the rowdy group, mostly youths, threw missiles at police officers, who had to respond by firing tear gas canisters to disperse them.
In another development, Justice Makonese ruled that the course of action taken by Chief Mathema and the Royal Crown Trust in seeking to coronate Bulelani Lobengula was illegal and unlawful in a separate matter filed by a claimant to the Ndebele crown, Mr Peter Zwide Khumalo, challenging the planned coronation of his South Africa-based rival.
“A prohibitory interdict be and hereby issued binding over the respondents (Chief Mathema, Royal Crown Trust and Bulelani) not to proceed with the installation of Bulelani as King of the Ndebele people on 3 March 2018,” said the judge.
Zwide, who last month imposed himself as King Nyamande Lobengula II, sought an order interdicting Bulelani Lobengula from being crowned “King of the Ndebele people”.
Through his lawyers Ncube Attorneys, he said the intended coronation of Bulelani Lobengula was necessitated by an unlawful process put in motion by the respondents.
Zwide said Chief Mathema, through the Royal Crown Trust instituted proceedings outside King Lobengula House and purported to have identified Bulelani as heir apparent to the Ndebele throne.