|Born||Nhlanhlayemangwe Felix Ndiweni|
Chief Ndiweni is a the traditional leader of the Ntabazinduna area in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe. He is the youngest son of the late Chief Khayisa Ndiweni. He is outspoken about his opposition to the Zanu-PF government policies and actions. Ndiweni stayed in the UK for 28 years and came back to Zimbabwe to take up the chieftainship following his father's death. His father had died in his sleep at the age of 97 at his Ntabazinduna homestead in 2010.
On 16 August 2019, he was sentenced to an effective 18 months in prison for malicious damage of property. Ndiweni and others had been accused of destroying a villager’s garden & kraal fence as part of a traditional court dispute. Some quarters indicated that his imprisonment was politically motivated as earlier, in May 2019, the permanent secretary in the Information Ministry Nick Mangwana had warned the chief:
may we remind Chief Felix Ndiweni that Government and the people of Zimbabwe are watching and watching closely as he goes on with his politics that are clearly not guided by the national and community interests but inspired by some dubious narrow, parochial interests.
Installment as Chief
Ndiweni was installed as chief in August 2014. At the time his late father's eldest child Joram Khayisa challenged Ndiweni, filing an urgent application to the High Court seeking the nullification of the appointment of his youngest brother as the chief. Joram claimed that the move was in violation of the Nguni customs, practices and norms, which recognise the eldest son as the rightful heir. However, their mother, Agnes backed Nhlanhlayemangwe Felix Ndiweni arguing that the eldest sone was irresponsible and that she had the final say. Jorum argued that even if this was true, his elder son, Mhlambezi, would assume the position of chief, instead of any of his brothers.
Nhlanhlayemangwe Felix Ndiweni appointment however eventually prevailed and he was installed on 22 August 2014.
Controversy and other actions as Chief
Campaign for closure Of Police and Prison training depots in Ntabazinduna
In October 2015 Chief Ndiweni circulated petitions to his subjects urging them to support the shutdown of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) training depots in Ntabazinduna. He wanted the closure of the ZRP depot to make way for a vocational training centre, and that of the ZPCS to provide land for people in the area. He also asked that if the two depots were not to be closed, then half the recruits had to be from his area.
Save Ntabazinduna Mountain campaign
In May 2019 Chief Ndiweni launched a campaign to save Ntabazinduna Mountain in Matabeleland North province from what he claimed was the illegal parceling out of the land under the guise of the land reform programme. His campaign was motivated by the government’s plan to evict a white commercial farmer, Brian Davies, from Tabas Induna Farm. 
Ndiweni argued that the mountain held historical value as the birthplace for the Ndebele nation. He threatened to lobby for the West to tighten sanctions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government if the eviction went ahead. Ndiweni also said the Parsons and Davies families, who owned the farm, were of Ntabazinduna as they had coexisted well with locals.
Comment on Gukurahundi Exhumations and Non-recognition of Mnangagwa Government
In May 2019, Chief Ndiweni said he did not recognise the Emmerson Mnangagwa Zanu-PF government as the government of Zimbabwe. He said he preferred to call it a “temporary” administration.
“Do you notice that I call it an administration, because according to me this country does not have a government. The proper government to run this country is yet to come. A government that will make people’s lives normal, a government that will put an end to fuel queues, a government that will see parents being able to pay fees for their children.
Gukurahundi was genocide, and as long as this administration does not acknowledge that, then we are going nowhere. Exhumations are not a solution because these graves are a crime scene, and there has to be a proper report on how these graves came to be and perpetrators must be brought to book”
Attendace of Political Party Events
In 2018 and 2019 Chief Ndiweni controversially attended and spoke at political party events, most notably the MDC Congress on 25 May 2019. Commentators noted that as a chief, the constitution made it clear that he was not to be involved in any political activities.
As a precedent, it was noted that the High Court had in February 2019 ruled against Chief Charumbira in a case about the involvement of traditional chiefs in politics. The High Court of Zimbabwe dismissed President of the Chiefs Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira’s appeal that the Court reverses its ruling that the chief should not be involved in partisan politics. Chief Charumbira was seeking to rescind a 2018 High Court Order against him for involvement in politics.
Chief Ndiweni is a direct descendant of Gundwane Ndiweni, the first Ndebele paramount chief who led a Nguni splinter group, separate to that of King Mzilikazi, into present-day Zimbabwe in 1838.
Traditional Court Dispute & Imprisonment
In 2017, a man approached the traditional court inn Ntabazinduna which was presided over by Ndiweni. The man had caught his wife red-handed in adulterous intercourse with a neighbour. The chief's ruling was the banishment of the woman from the village. According to Chief Ndiweni it turned out that the woman in question was a Zanu PF member in the area.
The man and the woman apparently eventually resolved their matter amicably but the Ndiweni's court insisted that she had to respect the ruling by leaving the village. She did not. As a penalty for contempt of the traditional ruling, Ndiweni instructed his court assistants to remove the family's garden and kraal fence which, according to Ndiweni, was made of bushes. The fence was removed on 26 July 2017.
The matter was reported to the police and Ndiweni together with the 23 people he sent to the homestead were charged with malicious damage to property. The matter dragged in the courts for two years. Ndiweni argued in court that prominent Zanu PF member Obert Mpofu was using the case 'fix' him.
On 15 August 2019, Ndiweni and his 23 subjects were found guilty of the charge.
On 16 August 2019, Ndiweni was sentenced to an effective 18 months imprisonment. His 23 subjects were ordered to perform 525 hours of community service.
A pre-recorded video message from Ndiweni was published soon after:
- Outspoken Chief Ndiweni Sentenced To Effective 18 Months Imprisonment, Pindula News, Published: 16 Aug 2019, Retrieved: 16 Aug 2019
- Elliot Siamonga, A chief out of touch with reality, The Patriot, Published:22 October 2015, Retrieved: 27 May 2019
- Chief Ndiweni fights to save historic Ntabazinduna mountain, calls for sanctions, ZimLive, Published: 12 May 2019, Retrieved: 27 May 2019
- I do not recognise ED’s govt: Chief, NewsDay, Published: 11 May 2019 , Retrieved: 27 May 2019
- High Court Upholds Ruling Banning Chief Charumbira From Politics, Pindula News, Published: 15 February 2019, Retrieved: 27 Mar 2019
- Mashudu Netsianda, UPDATED: Chief Ndiweni, 23 others convicted of destroying property, The Chronicle, Published:16 Aug 2019, Retrieved: 16 Aug 2019