Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
ONE of Binga’s longest serving chiefs, Chief Sikalenge who died aged 69 on Thursday was buried yesterday.
Chief Sikalenge, whose birth name was Bayela Charles Tshuma, died at Bulawayo’s Mater Dei Hospital where he had been admitted.
He was buried yesterday afternoon at his homestead in Manjolo in line with Tonga culture where elders especially traditional leaders are buried after the departure of ordinary mourners who only gather for the service and leave after a meal.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo who was represented by his Deputy Marian Chombo said Chief Sikalenge’s death leaves a vacuum which will be hard to fill.
He described him as a gallant and fearless custodian and protector of traditional heritage.
The Minister said the late Chief worked tirelessly for Government with no record of abusing office for personal gain.
“The late Chief will be remembered as a hero in this country. After his appointment he took on board the needs and ambitions of the Binga community which he demonstrated through promoting the development agenda and sound local governance in his area.
“He actually led by example as a visionary leader who sought to bring people together under his stewardship. He shunned corruption and traditional malpractices and strived to provide for his family and mostly to assist the vulnerable among his folk. Government appreciates his selfless leadership and his commitment to impartial and fair traditional leadership,” said Minister Moyo.
He said Chief Sikalenge worked tirelessly for the construction of several schools and health facilities such as Binga District Hospital and Siabuzuba Clinic as well as rehabilitation of several boreholes in his community.
The Chief also hosted a number of cultural events such as Chilimba Cultural Dance with the aim of preserving the Tonga culture.
“It is unfortunate that the Chief died without fulfilling some of his dear aspirations such as the Bulawayo Kraal Irrigation Scheme. He was development-oriented and desired to bring his community together in the spirit of progress and prosperity,” said Minister Moyo.
“To the Sikalenge people and his family in particular, I say this is not a loss to you alone. As Government we share and feel for you at this dark hour of bereavement. I am aware that a leader and father of this calibre will not be easy to replace and I therefore appeal to you to let us work hard to safeguard the good milestones that he has achieved during his time and strive to bring to fruition those of his unrealised dreams,” Minister Moyo said.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said Chief Sikalenge’s death was a blow to the district and province as it comes a few months after the death of Chief Sinamagonde of Lusulu last year.
“We continue to lose icons of our culture which is critical for our province and country’s development. As Matabeleland North we are humbled by this gesture which we are witnessing during this new dispensation. One of the favours we can do for him is to drive forward the many development initiatives he initiated,” he said.
Chief Sikalenge had been unwell for some time and was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo.
Government catered for his medical bill which had risen to US$5 000.
Chief Sikalenge was born on September 23, 1952 and did his Junior Certificate at Manjolo Secondary School in Binga before going to Bulawayo where he worked for Turnal Asbestos. He resigned from his job in 1983 to assume the chieftaincy in 1984.
Due to his servant leadership, Chief Sikalenge was elected into the National Council of Chiefs for consecutive terms from 1991 to 2005 and again in 2013 until 2017.
He is survived by five wives, 23 children, 40 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
The chairperson of the Matabeleland North Provincial Assembly Chief Shana represented deputy president of the Chief’s Council Senator Mtshane Khumalo of Bubi. — @ncubeleon