Senior traditional leader Fhatuwani Vho-Mulima (right) and Mulubi Mashamba, a community leader.
The now infamous Hangwani Mulaudzi project at Mukondeni village has hit another snag. The traditional leader responsible for the area said that he had never been consulted about the project and would not allow it to continue. The funders and organisers must first visit him and follow proper procedures before any further development will be allowed.
In July last year, the National Lotteries Council (NLC) deposited R3 million into the account of the Hangwani Mulaudzi Foundation. The grant was awarded to this non-profit organisation (NPO) to build sporting facilities at Mukondeni village. The relatively new NPO was named after the former spokesperson of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), Brig Mulaudzi. The foundation has since changed its name to the Bono Foundation.
The project was mired in controversy when Democratic Alliance MP Mat Cuthbert asked for an investigation into the grant. Cuthbert said that the matter constituted a serious conflict of interest as the NLC was being investigated by the Hawks. Mulaudzi announced three weeks ago that he had resigned as member of the Hawks, citing concerns for his own safety and that of his family members, among other reasons.
Construction of the project had only started in June this year. During an interview on 24 June, Mulaudzi told Limpopo Mirror that the project had been delayed because he first had to engage the Mashamba village leadership and members of the community to obtain land where the facility could be built. This process was concluded in September 2019, and the project could commence. However, construction was badly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown period, he said.
The two traditional leaders in the area, Thovhele Vho-Mashamba and Thovhele Vho-Mulima, responded by saying that this was not true. Mukondeni village falls under the jurisdiction of Thovhele Vho-Mulima and is thus not under the leadership of Vho-Mashamba.
“The construction of the stadium is a shock and a new story to me. I did not know of this project. I came to know about this project from the Limpopo Mirror article published on 11 July this year. No proper consultation for this project was done,” said Thovhele Vho-Mulima.
Vho-Mulima said he had consulted the headman, who had informed him that he was still waiting for the project owners to visit him, so that he could take them to the senior traditional leader. He said that his council should be informed about any developments around Mukondeni. “The traditional council of Mulima has no file or any correspondence of such a project on record,” said Vho-Mulima. He added that he would not allow the project to start operating before the project authorities had visited him for proper consultation.
The ward councillor for the specific area, Cllr Enoch Sithi, denies that this is the case, however. “All procedures were followed. Whenever we have projects in the area, we follow our culture of consulting with the vakoma. The vakoma will take the matter to the headman, who in turn takes the matter to the senior traditional leader. We cannot undermine our traditional leaders,” he said. He said that he was in possession of a letter from the senior traditional leader’s office that gave the go-ahead for the project.
According to Sithi, they still had to go and physically meet the senior traditional leader. He promised that they would meet the leader as decided during one of the meetings they held with the traditional leadership a couple of weeks ago.
Sithi previously said that he believed the project delivered value for money. Apart from the soccer field that was established, a netball court and ablution facilities were erected. The centre was fenced off and a borehole was sunk. The borehole was equipped, and the four tanks hold a combined 20 000 litres of water. The soccer field also boasts a freshly planted grass surface.
Thomas Rabuli, secretary of SANCO in that area, described the issue as a misunderstanding. “There is no way we could do the project without the acknowledgment of the senior traditional leader. All consultations were followed,” he said.
Date:28 November 2020 - By: Bernard Chiguvare
Bernard Chiguvare is a Zimbabwean-born journalist. He writes mainly for the online publication, Groundup.