Ovambanderu Clash Heads for Court

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By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro GOBABIS IT seems only an eleventh hour miraculous intervention may prevent a legal showdown between Ovambanderu Chief, Munjuku II Nguvauva, as first respondent, and the Ovambanderu Tradiitonal Authority as second respondent in a legal challenge to be launched by a groundswell group of Ovambanderu, among them Senior Chief of the Ovambanderu, Erastus Tjiundikua Kahuure. This challenge was confirmed and given momentum and blessing by a section of the Ovambanderu that is unhappy with the way the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority governance system, touted as a constitution, has been rammed down the throat of the community. At a meeting titled the Ovambanderu Constitutional Challenge Consultative Conference here on Saturday, close to 400 Ovambanderu from almost every constituency where the Ovambanderu has a presence in Namibia, like Aminuis, Otjinene, Kunene, Epukiro, Otjozo-ndjupa, Gobabis and Khomas consituencies, were informed of the origin of the current cold war within the tribe and the way forward. The dispute, the meeting learned, spread out of Ovambanderu Chief, Munjuku II, endorsing the new governing system without the broader community having the benefit of the knowledge of its content, let alone the chance to give input and comment on it. A “Constitutional Committee” was tasked with finalising the document by taking it to the broader community, in Namibia and in Botswana, through road shows ensuring that these communities were not only informed and familiar with the proposed traditional governance system but provided input as well. Thereafter, the Committee was to present the various feedback contributions to an All Ovambanderu Assembly for the whole community’s consideration and upon consensus, for Chief Munjuku II’s endorsement. It’s only then the new governing laws could be considered duly accepted rules of governance of the Ovambanderu community. This process was aborted when three members of the Committee of 12 took the document instead to Chief Munjuku II without educating and informing the community about its content and affording them the opportunity to comment on it. The apparent endorsement of the document by Chief Munjuku II has divided the community into two groups, one claiming that the document has duly been accepted and is now a legal document of the community, and the other that is challenging this view citing the aborted process through which the document should have been channelled. The group that claims that the document has been duly accepted has comfortably been feeding from the lap of Chief Munjuku II while the challenging team, comprising Kahuure, among others, has increasingly been alienated from Chief Munjuku II and has found all avenues to the Chief virtually inaccessible for them. One thing leads to the other and only last month, Kahuure and another delegate who has been representing the Ovambanderu in the Council of Traditional Leaders, Eeperi Ngaujake, were booted out of this house on the insistence of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority. Despite all, Kahuure and company are adamant that they are still bona fide Ovambanderu under Chief Munjuku II. As endorsed by the meeting here on Saturday, efforts to see Chief Munjuku II should continue to impress upon him the illegality of the document the Ovambanderu and their Chief are purported to have accepted. As much as the group pushing the document would not want to admit it, there is a groundswell opinion among the Ovambanderu that the process of approving and endorsing the document was aborted and thus the document in question is illegal. On this basis, Kahuure and company base their legitimacy as still bona fide leaders of the Ovambanderu community as per the old rules of governance in which Kahuure is a Senior Chief. It is with this interpretation that the Gobabis meeting confirmed Kahuure and company in their positions and mandated them to continue with their work among the community. Meanwhile, the Ovam-banderu Royal Authority has extended an invitation to Kahuure to a Chiefs Council meeting on December 10 to make his case. However, the meeting on Saturday strongly felt that Kahuure was not the only one with a problem with the governance document and that a sizeable section of the community, touted at three quarters of the Ovambanderu community, has a problem with it and thus also needed an audience with Chief Munjuku II. The meeting thus decided that Kahuure should only attend this meeting upon the advice of the concerned group’s legal representatives. The two versions of the documents defining the governance of the Ovambanderu differ in these salient respects: The first and older version defines the body in which the governing power of the Mbanderu is vested as the Mbanderu Royal Authority, whereas the latter version defines this authority as the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority. The head of this community has been known in terms of the older version of this document as “Ombara Otjiuru tjOvambanderu” (Chief/King, the Head of Ovambanderu) equal in status to a King whereas in the document under dispute, he is to be known as “Ombara Otjiuru” (Chief/King) equal in status to a Paramount Chief. On the communal, commercial and urban or district levels, version one of the document distinguishes between the traditional head of a communal area who is known as Omuhona Omu-nane (Leading Chief or Headman) while the leader of a commercial or urban district is known as Omukurumenepo wOmbara (Chief’s or King’s representative). The latest version defines leaders on all these levels as Senior Traditional Councillors. The “Ombara” or Supreme Leader, as the head of the Ovambanderu community is also referred to, has in terms of the older version of the governing laws of this community been designated from eminent clans of the Ovam-banderu. “Traditionally, a Mban-deru supreme head, according to Mbanderu customs, is being designated from amongst descendants of royal blood from eminent clans in the Mbanderu community whose authority so far has been rooted in the Royal House of Nguvauva,” reads the older version of the governing laws. In the latest version, he/she is to be designated only from the Nguvauva clan from which the current leader, Chief Munjuku II, hails and those succeeding him/her must be the next in line from this clan. “The Supreme Leader shall continue to be designated from among descendants of royal blood from the Nguvauva clan in the Ovambanderu community and succession shall be hereditary,” reads the latest version. Whereas the old structure makes provision for a Senior Chief, a position that has been occupied by Kahuure, until with the current dispute, the proposed system of governance scraps this position.