|No DNA tests for chiefs — Chombo|
|Monday, 09 July 2012 13:12|
Senior ReporterGOVERNMENT will not bend to the demands by some sections of society that successors of chiefs should undergo DNA tests before appointment and installation to ensure the thrones are not corrupted by those who would have been brought into the clan by their mothers without the knowledge of their husbands, a Cabinet minister has said.
In an interview with the Sunday News on Friday last week, the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo, said it was not traditional for Government to conduct DNA tests on chief’s successors. He also defended the installation of youthful chiefs saying those querying the ministry’s position were ignorant of the institution of chief.
His comments came in the wake of a running fire of verbal criticism from some sections of the society over the recent appointments and installations of two youthful chiefs in Matabeleland North and South provinces. The two chiefs are still at school with one at a local university while the other is doing A-level and has not yet reached the legal age of majority.
Some have even gone to the extremes, calling for DNA tests to be conducted to ensure that the chief’s throne was not corrupted by alien blood of children brought into the clan by their mothers.
Minister Chombo said people who were not happy with the appointments and installations of the youthful chiefs were uninformed and do not understand the whole concept of traditional leadership.
He said some were also driven by the spirit of jealous especially after Government introduced vehicles and other benefits for the chiefs.
“I am aware of the criticism that I am being subjected to over the recent appointment of youthful chiefs. The criticism is unwarranted and comes from a section of the society that is ignorant of the whole concept of chieftainship. Some have even called for DNA tests to be conducted on the sons of chiefs arguing that the process would ensure the throne is given to the correct and deserving child and avoid giving it to those that would have been brought by their mothers into the clan without the knowledge of the husband who would be the chief.
“Government is not going to allow that to happen. We are not going to have the DNA tests, the process will create more problems and it is not traditional. We are going to install those that we would have been given by the clan after looking at their succession system. Those arguing that the youthful chiefs recently installed in Matabeleland will not be able to uphold the society's traditional values are in the dark because first of all the chiefs do not rule alone. They are usually assisted by the council of elders. It is therefore that council of elders that will be doing all the work for the young chief. He is only the figurehead and therefore the question of age is technically immaterial. Uncles and aunts of the clan are also expected to render support but on most occasions they take the lead in criticising, which is unfortunate," he said.
Dr Chombo said some of the complaints were born out of the spirit of greed where relatives would have been fighting for the throne especially after Government introduced vehicles, houses and other benefits for the chiefs. He said the country had three youthful chiefs who were still to complete their education and about 10 women chiefs.
"We are guided by the traditional system that will be documented. In Matabeleland unlike in Mashonaland the first child of the chief usually will succeed the father. In some clans the child's gender does not matter. That is why you see women being installed. In other clans, however, they say the first son but in most cases in Mashonaland it follows houses. That is what guides us in installing the chiefs," he said.
The minister said he was also aware of chiefs who joined apostolic churches that disallow them to carry out traditional rituals such as rainmaking ceremonies. He said such chiefs should appoint from the clan, someone who would carry out the rituals for the people if the society had always been doing those rituals.