Dethroned Ntabazinduna Chief, Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni (58), said that a warrant for his arrest issued by a court in Bulawayo is “politically motivated.”
Sergeant Canisious Chesango, the officer in charge of Mbembesi Police Station had requested the warrant, accusing Ndiweni of breaching his bail conditions since his release from jail by a High Court judge in August 2019.
Bulawayo magistrate Maxwell Ncube signed the arrest warrant on Thursday last week.
However, Ndiweni said he obtained permission from the police to travel to the United Kingdom for eye treatment, waiving a requirement to report once every Friday.
It was the timing of the arrest warrant that raised eyebrows as it came after Ndiweni made a visit to 10 Downing Street in London on 2 December.
The traditional leader handed over a petition to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to support a campaign by Zimbabweans living abroad to be allowed to vote in elections in 2023.
In a statement on Monday, Chief Ndiweni said the warrant is politically motivated as authorities knew that he was in the United Kingdom. He said:
So after nearly two years of me being in the United Kingdom for treatment, some government political spin doctor suddenly realised that I’m not in Zimbabwe?
The problem for this political spin doctor is that the whole government knew that I was not in Zimbabwe, the police knew and have been working with me the entire time, having allowed me to go for treatment in the United Kingdom in the first place.
By the reaction of the government and their spin doctors, it is evident that they were not pleased that the Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote campaign to give voting rights to 5.5 million plus Zimbabwean citizens in the diaspora has reached this level.
He said he has a chronic eye condition for which he has received treatment at a United Kingdom hospital for the last 20 years.
Chief Ndiweni also said on the day he was convicted and sent to Khami Prison, he had undergone an eye operation. He added:
I explained my condition to my legal team. I showed them the medical referral from the Bulawayo doctor to the hospital in the United Kingdom.
They said that on such medical evidence, I was entitled to medical treatment, even with the bail conditions that were there.
Because the situation was evident and historical, spanning over 20 years, they advised that I should go immediately for the treatment.
When everything was in place for me to go to travel, I signed at the police station and also told them that I was going to the UK for treatment.
The police also had sight of my medical referral and medical papers to that end.
At the police station, there was no electricity or a photocopying machine to copy these documents. The police said they would engage my lawyers.
So authority was given by the police. Had additional permission been required, I would not have gone to the UK for treatment until such authority was given.
He said he will return to Zimbabwe once he is discharged from his treatment.