Eewa ! – Memories of Cruel Chiefs

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William J.Mbangula

Who has the divine right to rule in terms of customary practice of inheritance of traditional leadership? There appears to be double standards and manipulations by the very people who assumed power through customary practice of inheritance. Double standards, cheating and manipulations in the Uukwambi and Oukwanyama traditional authorities have become too rampant. But I don’t think such unbecoming behaviour is only confined to the two traditional areas. As far as I can recall, customary practice dictates that the person has to inherit the throne from the relative. Appointment or election of a traditional leader can only be conducted if there is no nominated successor. But both three methods are applied indiscriminately depending on whether the nominated successor is favoured or not by the powers that be.

Such abusive tendencies brings back the memories of the cruel chiefs known for wielding excessive power and abusing it recklessly. Remember the law of Epokolo. Some chiefs, like during the colonial era, have become untouchable and abusive.(read D. Soggot,Namibia The Violent Heritage, Rex Collings, P. 61 on the law of epokolo).

Amon Sheefeni Shipanga, the Senior Headman of Onamutai (Oukwanyama) who inherited the throne from his uncle Johannes Kalimbo Kalomho in 1997, is currently at the forefront of denying others the same right (to inherit thrones) which was accorded to him only 12 years ago. It is said Shipanga has nominated his niece Beata Mupika Mengela nee Haufiku, to succeed him. Besides, he is reported to have received close to N$70 000 tax free money for (his personal pocket) between June 2006 and February 2007 (and still continues to receive such money) paid by Nexus Construction company for gravel mined on the land of a widow, Rachel Kakoto from Omusheshe village. Such money from the resources of the community were supposed to have been paid into the Community Trust Fund(CTF) as contemplated in Section 18(3) of the Traditional Authorities Act No. 25 of 2000.

Another case is related to Chief Herman Iipumbu of Uukwambi who is accused by Othika villagers of nepotism and abuse of power. Chief Iipumbu, the grandson of King Iipumbu Ya Tshirongo, inherited the seat from his father Silas Iipumbu after a protracted power struggle. Chief Iipumbu is now accused of sidelining the nominated candidate Martin Nambala Angombe of Othika village and instead has confirmed the brother of his father, Abraham Kamutsheetha Iipumbu, as the headman. Kamutsheetha is favoured as a headman and also employed under the direct control and supervision of Chief Iipumbu. The Chief is reported to have nominated his son, Sondaha Abner, as his successor. Why should Iipumbu and Shipanga think that only their families and cronies have the divine right to rule through customary practice of inheritance but not others? Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), please find out.

Eewa

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