PHARAOH B. MUSKWE
(1) DOUGLAS NYAJINA (2) MUNHUWEI G. T.
(3) MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, NATIONAL HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT N.O.
SUPREME COURT OF ZIMBABWE
GARWE JA, GOWORA JA, & OMERJEE AJA
HARARE, JANUARY 21, 2013 AND AUGUST 14, 2014
R Chingwena, for the appellant
M Kamudefwere, for the first respondent
No appearance for the second and third respondents
GARWE JA: In August 2005, the appellant, as plaintiff, issued summons in the High Court in which he sought an order setting aside the appointment of the first respondent as Chief Nyajina – designate and a further order directing the second and third respondents to take into account and abide by the values, traditions and customary principles of the VaZumba people in selecting the next Chief Nyajina. He also sought an order declaring the Mukonde House as the house eligible to select a candidate to become the next Chief Nyajina from its ranks. After hearing evidence the High Court dismissed the claim with costs. It is against that order that the appellant now appeals to this court.
The pater genitor i.e. founder of the VaZumba clan, was one Sororoziome. He passed the reins of power to his first son, Nyanhewe, who became the first chief of the clan. Nyanhewe in turn bore a son, one Nyahuma, who succeeded him after his death and burial at Marowe mountain. Nyahuma had four sons. These were Kanodzirasa (also known as Nyambudzi or Bambo of the Madzimbahwe), Mukonde, Kawoko and Chikuwe. There was some dispute as to who between Mukonde and Kanodzirasa was the eldest son. It was common cause during the trial that Kanodzirasa lost the right to accede to the chieftainship. The reason for this remains unclear. The appellant on the one hand says he had desecrated some of the traditions of the clan and in particular had taken the meat of the guardian spirit, the result of which was that he and his family were permanently barred from acceding to the chieftainship. The first respondent on the other hand says he murdered his younger brother Chikuwe and consequently was barred by the guardian spirit of the clan from acceding to the chieftainship. In addition he and members of his family were relegated to the position of ‘Mugovi wemarongo’ which, literally, meant “meat sharer”. The dispute remains whether in this capacity his role was to kill, skin and cook food whilst the other houses discussed issues of the chieftainship or whether members of the family were allowed to attend those meetings and participate, although they could not accede to the chieftainship.
After his death Nyanhewe became the guardian spirit or svikiro of the clan and was known interchangeably as Bvukura or Bvukupfuku. The guardian spirit, which manifested itself through a living human being, was intricately involved in the selection of a chief. The dispute during the trial was whether the guardian spirit merely vetted the candidate who was to assume the role of chief, as the appellant claims, or the spirit would, independently of the houses of the clan, announce the house and the name of the person who should succeed the deceased chief, as claimed by the first respondent.