A man in Mashonaland West Province reportedly convinced villagers that he was a traditional leader, Chief Devera, and made them pay tribute with livestock, menial jobs, and cash, among other things, for three years.
The man, Simbarase Chikuya, in 2019 told villagers that he had been appointed Chief Devera by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Since assuming the “throne”, ” Chief Devera” has made villagers in Chakari, Chegutu Six and Sanyati take turns to guard him.
The villagers have been taking turns guarding him and the homestead they built for him on a rock promontory.
However, records at the Ministry of Local Government in Kadoma show that the Devera chieftainship was abolished in Rhodesia and has not yet been resuscitated.
In an interview with The Herald, Fanuel Yothum Torimirashiri, who resides close to Chakari Mine, said the “bogus” chief made villagers contribute seed, fertilizer, draught power, and labour every farming season. He said:
He lied to us that President Mnangagwa had appointed him chief in 2019 and that within weeks, he would be anointed at a ceremony in front of us all.
He then appointed me his secretary and for three years we collected livestock, goods and cash from villagers. We have the records.
We even forced people to work for him in the fields and building his compound and shrine until recently when I differed with him for continuously demanding all sorts of payments from poor villagers, when the Government does not recognize the chieftainship.
We are not sure how we got blinded by this man who is not even a member of our clan. Now we know he is not a chief.
The Government has not appointed him chief. He is nothing. When it all started in 2019, he told us he had been appointed our chief by the President and we believed him.
We were taking turns buying him airtime, bread and everything. I would personally deliver the bread by bicycle to his home.
Later he demanded the bicycle itself and I had to sell it, to avoid it being confiscated.
According to Torimirashiri’s records, corroborated by the eldest living Devera clan member Zivanai Muza, two headmen were appointed and made to pay six cattle each or USD$300, to buy the position. One of those who paid was Chuma Gora.
The 43 village heads appointed by Chikuya were made to pay a beast each at the same United States Dollars equivalent.
Chikuya on Friday told The Herald that he was appointed Chief Devera in 2019 and only waiting for an official ceremony. He said:
I am their chief. I have been working towards the resuscitation of our chieftainship abolished in 1857.
I am just waiting for President Mnangagwa to come down here and anoint me. The venue will be Chakari Stadium.
No one is contesting that I am the chief. My papers are now in high offices.
All you hear is the work of detractors. Those I appointed into positions like village heads or headmen are my working team to put structures in place. People gave me goods of their own will.
Chikuya claimed that the chiefdom straddles the vast gold-rich land that borders Chief Neuso to the west, chief Ngezi to the south and east and Makonde to the north.
Muza, who claims to be the oldest living member of the Devera clan, said Chikuya is from Gokwe and came to the area following his lover.
He said the “bogus” chief came to the place as a traditional healer, a Tsikamutanda.