Ministry Finds Matundu-Tjiparuro’s Article Objectionable

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New Era’s Matundu-Tjiparuro Got It All Wrong: The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (MRLGHRD) dismisses with all the contempt it deserves, a highly misplaced and poisonous article penned by Mr. Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro of New Era newspaper, titled “Aminuis, The Danger Lights were Flickering” published by New Era of Friday, 10th November 2006. Matundu-Tjiparuro’s article is not only misleading and confusing the community of Aminuis, but is designed to incite and justify community violence and stir unnecessary emotions and uneasiness among the entire peace-loving Namibians who hold traditional matters dear to their hearts. Apart from justifying violence as a means to achieve the objectives of those disturbing peace and harmony in resolving traditional disputes, the article blames the Government for all the current ills in Aminuis, and Matundu-Tjiparuro spent much of his opening paragraphs on attacking the Ministry for lacking foresight, commitment and political sensitivity in handling traditional issues such as the Aminuis saga. Notwithstanding the Constitutional freedoms of association and expression, what we find particularly amiss with the article is that Matundu-Tjiparuro is an employee of New Era which is a Government-owned newspaper established by an Act of Parliament to educate, inform and entertain the Namibian public in an objective, ethical, professional and pragmatic manner. As an employee of a Government-owned newspaper, Matundu-Tjiparuro, should have cross-checked his facts and acquainted himself with the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000 and the Council of Traditional Leaders Act, Act 13 of 1997, which set clear parameters of the boundaries and responsibilities of the Ministry in handling traditional issues. This is what any professional and ethically sensitive journalist should have done in order to give his/her readership balanced and objective views or opinions on the issue at hand. However, the New Era columnist did none of the above. Amongst other insinuations of his attempt to justify and stoke strife in Aminuis, Matundu-Tjiparuro penned the following unfounded allegations and innuendos: “I saw it coming sooner or later. And I am sure that many must have also seen it coming. The only strange thing is that the Government never seemed to see it coming. Or rather it has been ignoring it for some reasons. Eventually, a young man had to pay the highest price, giving life because of the authority’s dilly-dallying and indecision. I am referring to what happened over the weekend in the Aminuis Constituency. Two Ovaherero groups clashed over the territory’s traditional governance. The blame for what happened lies squarely on the shoulder of the Government. The government approach in the first place in the recognition of traditional leaders appears twisted, skewed, ill-thought and half-baked. The Ministry in turn seems to lack foresight and commitment and political sensitivity. Simply the Ministry seems to be failing dismally in overhauling the bad environment created by the government’s approach. Rather than fostering tribal harmony, it seems to be fostering tribal strife, hostility and conflict. The end result is what we are seeing today in Aminuis. The Ministry seems, whether Machiavellian design or sheer lack of wisdom and vision, to have abdicated the recognition of some traditional leaders who may presumably not be pro- royal blood or politically correct, to the Council of Traditional Leaders for its presumed advice. This has in turn further been procrastinating matters of recognition. Whatever political agenda of the Government, it has been overlooking one important aspect. That is how important traditional leaders are to communities and how communities may at one point or the other react to the continued marginalization, real or perceived. Not that these communities clamour so much for the official recognition of their leaders. No! All they want is for Government to desist from continuing to impose, or to be perceived to be imposing leaders on them. And this is the strong message that is coming from the incident: the Aminuis Constituency is not prepared to have traditional leaders imposed on them. Period! One wonders how many similar incidents the Government would like to see before the message is home!!” Firstly, let it be known that the incident, which Matundu-Tjiparuro referred to in his article, is not to be blamed on Government in general or the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, in particular. If there is anybody to be blamed, and surely there should be, it is those who provoked and pursued the act of violence in Aminuis and, as matter of fact, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development was and is not Party to that violence. Like the saying which goes that “what is eating a bean is the bean,” (tjima tjiri ekunde tjiri mekunde orini”) Matundu-Tjiparuro wrote that he saw it coming, but he failed to inform the Namibian public and the international community at large, that he himself (Matundu-Tjiparuro) as a government-employed journalist working for New Era, which he uses to justify and stoke emotions and feelings of violence with his dramatized but baseless wild accusations and blame against Government, what action has he taken to prevent it from coming? Is he inferring that he is a journalist who is part of the problem and not part of the solution, as deducing from his own writing? He saw violence coming, but instead of informing the public about the violence which he saw coming, he waited until it happened, and then used a public media institution (New Era) to wrongly accuse the Ministry and the Government of the Republic of Namibia. He wrote that “the Ministry seems, whether by Machiavellian design or by sheer lack of wisdom and vision to have abdicated the recognition of some traditional leaders who may presumably not be from the royal blood or politically correct, to the Council of Traditional Leaders for its presumed advice”. Matundu-Tjiparuro – or let’s say New Era’s – foregoing sentiments and remarks are a load of baseless innuendos. It is conventional knowledge that ethical and professional journalism calls for objectivity and non-biasness in the conduct of journalism; therefore, Matundu-Tjiparuro’s biasness and hostility towards Government on unfounded grounds do not only defy logic, but it’s regrettable and sad as his article incites and justifies violence. Furthermore, professional and ethical journalism is not only supposed to be done on the principles of objectivity and without biasness for the purpose of educating and informing the public, but ethical and principled journalism prohibits and totally condemns incitement and stoking of violence. Strangely, it seems that Matundu-Tjiparuro, by default, is an ardent spokesperson or public relations officer of those whom he referred to as unrecognized traditional leaders worked against (violated) the above-mentioned tenets and principles of professional journalism through the display of his antics and hostility against the government which he accused of all sorts of blame in his article published in New Era which it seems he is using as a medium of communication for propagation of his anti-government propaganda. We further state categorically and unambiguously that the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development rejects with all the contempt it deserves, New Era’s Matundu-Tjiparuro’s inference and unfounded lies that the Ministry imposes traditional leaders in the communities or some communities in Namibia. The Ministry wants to challenge and invite him to substantiate or back up his baseless but highly inciting and explosive remarks with facts, if there are any. He must come out openly and state the political insensitivity of Government, which he is talking about, and also list the traditional leaders or communities who are continuously marginalized by the Government or the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development. For the benefit of the wider public and in the interest of objectivity and fairness, we wish to highlight on the relevant sections that deal with the criteria used to establish traditional authorities and other matters related the dispute handling mechanisms. Traditional Authorities are established in accordance with Section 2 of the Traditional Authorities Act, (Act. No. 25, 2000). Pursuant to this provision, every traditional community may establish for such community a traditional authority consisting of the chief or head of that traditional community, designated and recognized in accordance with this Act; and Senior traditional councillors and traditional councillors appointed or elected in accordance with this Act. Section Three (3) deals with powers, duties and functions of traditional authorities and their members thereof, while Section Four (4) deals with the designation of the chief or head of a traditional community. Of particular importance are: Sections Six (6), Seven (7), Eight (8) Nine (9), Ten (10) and Twelve (12) of Act 25 of the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000, which deals with the recognition of chiefs or head of traditional community, powers, duties and functions of chiefs or head of traditional community, removal and succession of chief or head of traditional community, establishment of chief’s and traditional councils, their power, duties and functions thereof, the appointment of senior traditional councillors, traditional councillors and secretary, and their powers, duties and functions and the settlement of disputes, respectively. If Matundu-Tjiparuro had the courage to read these sections as part of his responsibility to objectively inform and educate the public, then he should have known how the issue of Aminuis could have been handled without pointing a finger at the Ministry. It is interesting to observe how Matundu-Tjiparuro cited the example of two senior councillors, one representing the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority, one in Aminuis and the other one in Kunene whose duties he seems to understand, but hypocritically fails to understand what can be the duties of the Representative of the Maharero Royal Traditional Authority in Aminuis, Senior Councillor Kazonyaminja. What also defies logic is that Matundu-Tjiparuro never bothered to ask the Ministry to explain the duties of Senior Councillor and other Traditional Authority before he wildly embarked upon his unwarranted wanton attack of the Ministry and the Government on the issue of recognition of traditional leaders. If Matundu-Tjiparuro seems to understand the role of the Senior Councillor representing the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority in Aminuis and Kunene, why is he failing to understand that of Senior Councillor Kazongominja of the Maharero Royal House Traditional Authority who was appointed by that traditional authority to play a similar role to that of the representatives of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority in Aminuis and Kunene which he has referred to in his Article. Here is it Government or Matundu-Tjiparuro and his associates who have a political agenda, therefore whose approach to dealing with the issue of recognition of traditional leaders appears twisted, skewed, ill-thought and half-baked! Matundu-Tjiparuro should tell the Namibian public as to who is fooling who? If Aminuis and Kunene are a ‘go’ area for some representatives of a certain traditional authority, why should it be a ‘no-go’ area for some, and under the basis of which Namibia is a piece of legislation? Namibians are crying for the answer from New Era’s Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro, who declared that, “the Aminuis community is not prepared to have Traditional leaders imposed on them. Can he inform and educate the public as to how and by whom traditional leaders are imposed in the community of Aminuis? Matundu-Tjiparuro should know that selective morality and hypocrite politics of playing double standards are the worst enemies of peace and stability, therefore he must stop abusing his position by using New Era publications for stoking violence for his own political gain. The Liaison and Public Relations Office Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development WINDHOEK