The election of the Kgosi of Zwenshambe, which pitted Moses Mabutho and Godknows Robby has come and gone with Mabutho emerging the winner with 816 votes to Robby’s 157.
There were five spoilt votes. The extent of the interest generated by the event was unprecedented as even general election in the Zwenshambe ward has never achieved that amount of enthusiasm. It was clear from the numbers, the body language and the gossip albeit in subdued tones outside the community hall, that the occasion had a lot of significance to the villagers.
A lot was at stake in the election. Since September last year when the High Court nullified a decision by former Minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha that the Chabale clan were the rightful heirs to the Zwenshambe chieftainship, the village had been headless leading to the community failing to access certain services. Mabutho, a resident of the Chabale ward, had been installed following Nasha’s ruling in favour of the Chabale clan in 2007.
Part of the village however immediately contested the royalty of the Chabale clan over the Zwenshambe village at the High Court. To the chagrin of the Chabale ward, the High Court determined that, thenceforth, the kgosi of Zwenshambe would be determined by an election. Chabale ward from which Mabutho comes, embraced him in the interest of continuity as he had been the village Kgosi since 2007. The other camp, fielded Robby.
Things were always going to be difficult for Robby. First, he is not as known like Mabutho. There is little doubt that incumbency worked for Mabutho. In him, Robby was trying to topple a man who many believed had made an impact in the village.
Mabutho’s supporters claim that, when he took over after the retirement of Masilo Ngubalane, he brought unity in the village because of his conciliatory approach to things and refusing to victimise those who were averse to the alleged seniority of the Chabale clan. According to Mabutho’s campaign manager, Messiah Gwaloba, his team won the day because they were honest while the other team was not.
“It was easy for us to rebut their issues. In fact their campaign was based only on the allegation that if Mabutho won, he would place the village under the authority of the Mosojane village. We competently rebutted this and the community saw through all of it,” said Gwaloba who said that his camp had teams in every ward which teams, according to him, were dominated by the youth. “Facebook was one of our key weapons,” explained Gwaloba adding that all major centres such as towns where there were people from Zwenshambe were mobilised.
Mabutho is credited with bringing a semblance of cultural reconnaissance to the village by introducing harvest day into the village calendar. His supporters remember a cultural evening event featuring Kalanga cuisine and entertainment at the kgotla. They also credit him for mobilising the community around the refurbishment of both the community hall and the health post which had become eyesores. One of his achievements, they say, was that he brought law and order to a village almost under siege by the youth who had made bar brawls the order of the day.
Mabutho inherited a village ripped apart by factionalism coming from as far back as 1979 when the now pro-Robby faction had Ngubalane elected as the village Kgosi. The now pro-Mabutho camp insisted even in 1979 that the position was hereditary and belonged to the Chabale clan. Asked how he intends to work with Robby and his supporters, he said, “I will not discriminate against anybody. I will work with all the villagers the way I have always done for that is how I should work with them,” he said adding that, one of the projects the community he leads intends to embark on is the kgotla shelter. “The plans are ready and have been approved by council,” he revealed.
For his part, Robby said in an interview that he accepts the results, indicated that he is more than willing to work with Mabutho.
“There was a lot of voter trafficking though with people being brought all the way from Mosojane, Masunga, and Letsholathebe, for instance. However, for the sake of the people, I accept the results and am ready to work with Mabutho. I do not consider myself a loser. Our struggle has always been that Zwenshambe has got no hereditary kgosi and in that regard, we won. The people came in large numbers to validate our position. Again, due to our effort, Zwenshambe is no longer a colony of Mosojane,” said Robby. His campaign manager, Dingaan Mulale is also happy that the issue of the Chabale claiming the leadership of Zwenshambe is over.
“We are elated that the people have voted. My hope is that, going forward, we will march in unison cognisant of the fact that we are not enemies. We were only competitors before the election,” said Mulale.