Tribal tensions brew an Eastern Cape land war

2017-03-12 06:00
Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu

Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu

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Land war is brewing in the Eastern Cape after the amaMfengu tribe accused controversial amaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu of illegally commanding power over their land.

The amaMfengu rejected a chief that the king had appointed over them. (The same king had said controversially that women were “too sensitive” to lead South Africa.)

In a heated meeting on Thursday, held at the Mbashe Hall in Willowvale, a group of more than 30 amaMfengu (or Fingo) chiefs questioned king Sigcawu’s motives for nominating a chief from the rival clan of amaTshawe (the king’s own clan) over them.

The traditional authority is in the hands of chief Nkosi Zanokhanyo Bikitsha, of the Zizi clan under the amaMfengu.

Chief Bikitsha, who on Thursday was elected chairperson of the Mfengu General Council, said they would take up the matter with Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle and go to court if need be.

“We have problems regarding relations between the Xhosa kingdom and the Fingo chiefs. This emanates basically from him [Sigcawu] imposing Xhosa chiefs in tribal authorities that are [traditionally] under Fingos.

Bikitsha said the Bikitsha royalty had peacefully coexisted with the previous seven Xhosa kings. It was only under Sigcawu that relations began to deteriorate, he said.

“We believe the land under Fingos is our land. We will write letters to the premier and the king and deliver them next week, to tell the king we do not accept his bid to undermine the Fingo people,” said Bikitsha, who is a qualified medical doctor based in Cape Town.

Bikitsha said he had met Sigcawu a week ago to try to resolve the matter, but the king and his chiefs refused to listen to him.

They had told him they would go ahead with plans to place Tshawe chiefs as heads in the Fingo traditional authorities.

Nkosazana Nokhwezi Mhaga, a Fingo traditional leader, told the meeting on Thursday that she had personally attended a meeting at King Sigcawu’s Nqadu Great Place earlier this week, where the king and his chiefs met with a lawyer from KwaZulu-Natal with a view to setting up a trust to administer the land of the amaXhosa on the same model as the Ngonyama Trust of the Zulu kingdom.

Prince Xhanti Sigcawu, spokesperson of the king, said they were shocked to hear of the complaints and had not been aware of any hostilities. “We will wait for the letter to the premier,” Sigcawu said.

Read more on:    land

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