Judgment in Ovambanderu Constitutional Challenge

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro Last Friday, Judge Collins Parker handed down his judgment in the Ovambanderu Constitutional Challenge. The verdict is crystal clear. The Ovambanderu constitution, purported to have been adopted on 1 October 2005, is null and void. The verdict can only be a way forward, depending on how the two sides to the dispute reconcile themselves with the verdict, live with it and move on. The initial reaction of one section to the challenge, the complainant or the concerned group as they have come to call themselves, is encouraging. “Applicants wish to extend an unequivocal hand of cooperation towards respondents. This cooperation as a matter of necessity must be preceded by a series of undertakings including a reconciliation meeting,” the concerned group pointed out in a media release after the judgment. One hopes that this position or intent is not cast in opportunism or in the satisfaction that comes with the verdict being in their favour. Rather, one wishes this is a genuine intent by a people tired of the belligerence and animosity that has pitted tribesmen and women against one another for as long as the dispute has been around, close to two years now. Good intentions by the concerned group, however genuine, are not a sufficient condition for the beleaguered community to move on in unison. The Ovambanderu Paramount Chief, Munjuku II Nguvauva, at this stage more than anyone else holds the key to whether rapprochement and the concomitant progress, practicality and development, usurped by the dispute, would eventually return to this community. I have pointed out in a previous column, just before the resumption of the court case, that matters would not have reached the stage they have reached, especially one of litigation and its adversities, if the leaders of the Ovambanderu had displayed the necessary wisdom as could be expected from the old wisemen and women they are held up to be. On the contrary, what one has been seeing on this matter is intransigence and entrenched positions. This time around, unlike with the interim order, the court has finally spoken loud and clear, and ignoring it would be at the community’s own peril. Any perilous situation can be averted if those involved, especially the Paramount Chief, can show the necessary leadership acumen, rekindle the flamed and poisoned spirits and bring back the community on the right path towards its cultural enrichment. For this he needs a lot of goodwill and magnanimity. These include educating the community on the essence of the verdict. As clear as the verdict is, different interpretations seem to be spreading among the community. Strangely, some of those who are supposed to be responsible leaders within the community, are guilty of misinformation. Such an attitude does not help the situation very much in terms of rekindling pent-up emotions. The sooner the community realizes the meaning of the verdict, the better. Most importantly, there are those who during the dispute have been feeding from the lap of the Paramount Chief, pretending to hold the interests of the Ovambanderu community uppermost in their hearts. Yes, among them are well-meaning Ovambanderu. But they seem to be carried away with the bad stream. The self-centred elements seem to be confusing their own personal interests, agenda and vendettas with those of the community. The seeming intractable situation the Ovambanderu have come to find themselves in, is largely the outcome of their misguided and misinformed doings. In fact, they have been steering the community, unknown to the Paramount Chief, into the wilderness. One dreads to venture a prediction to where the community is headed if these elements do not mend their ways. Thus, as Judge Parker’s verdict has hopefully put this community on a comeback plain, caution should be the order of the day, especially in taking the advice of these revered advisers of the Paramount Chief. Equally, the other side is infiltrated with elements with own ambiguous agendas in the same league as their counterparts. The lesson of these avowed advisers is there for all and sundry to see. Considering the damage they have already inflicted on this community with their advice, which at best is coated selfish personal agendas and vendettas, it is time for the good of this community that they take a backseat. They are not the only wisemen and women of this community, nor the only ones with the best interests of the community at heart. It is time that real wisemen and women with real interests of the community come forward. The community seems to have reached the crossroad sand now, more than at any time, it needs real sons and daughters to take it out of the doldrums. Without denying the other side its rightful option of an appeal, the verdict is substantive, and one sees a higher court departing little from this substance. Thus, an appeal is not the most advisable avenue this time around when the community should get over this matter. Rather, it shall be further supping the resources of the community in every way besides distracting it from meaningful engagement in its actual mandate, and fuelling animosity. The best is for the two groups to swallow whatever pride they have, take each other by the hand and move on. As a necessary gesture of goodwill, especially from the concerned group, it would be highly commendable and a truthful gesture for them to have the interests of the community at heart if they jointly share the cost. Only – and only – if the two sides genuinely decide to bury the hatchet, enter into immediate consultations and move on. Once again, I need re-emphasize that the key to the future progress and well-being of the Ovambanderu lies with the extent to which Paramount Chief Munjuku II Nguvauva and his core leadership dispose themselves towards the verdict.