By Charles Tjatindi
Fresh allegations of mismanagement, favouritism and tribalism within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, ELCRN, have emerged despite recent efforts by the church to refute the allegations.
Prominent figures within the top leadership of the church are accused of perpetrating these acts, causing a rift among various congregations.
Gerson Doeseb, the man the leadership of the ELCRN alleges is spreading the rumours and not following correct channels in airing his grievances; last week dismissed the church’s version about the conduct of elections at the last synod.
Doeseb claimed that the only reason why Reverend Kameeta became the sole candidate is a letter allegedly written by the church leadership to all congregations advising them to only nominate Kameeta for the position of Bishop.
Doeseb, a member of the Ephesians congregation of the ELCRN, further alleges church management used ‘dirty tricks’ to ensure Kameeta’s election to the church’s top position.
Doeseb also alleges that at various occasions he unsuccessfully requested an audience with the church’s management council.
After continued attempts however, the council eventually granted him permission to meet with them – a meeting that proved futile according to Doeseb.
“Kameeta became angry with me when I raised my point, he told me it was his church and he could do as he pleases,” Doeseb alleges.
Other sources claim that although allegations of corruption, tribalism and favouritism against top management have simmered within the church for some time, they only came out in the open after the last synod.
The allegations of tribalism and favouritism reportedly stem from apparent efforts by Bishop Kameeta to keep nama-speaking pastors in top positions within the church council – something that has allegedly been happening for some time.
The current bone of contention however, is Paul Kisting’s election as Deputy Bishop at the church’s last synod, where it re-elected Kameeta Bishop.
The remaining candidates that failed to secure the Bishops position were supposed to contest the deputy’s position at elections held at a separately according to the church’s articles.
Doeseb claimed that in a bid to force the synod to rubberstamp their decision, management deliberately chose to ignore the church’s constitution, and pushed for the election of the Deputy Bishop to go on, there and then.
“Article 31 of the church’s constitution states clearly that in such a case, the elections of the Deputy Bishop should not be made at the same event. They ignored this part of the constitution for their own gain,” Doeseb said.
He maintains that the newly elected Deputy Bishop, Paul Kisting chaired the synod session culminating in his election to the position.
Doeseb further questions, why Kisting asked members of congregations without voting rights to leave the hall before announcing the results of the elections.
The leadership of the ELCRN refused to comment when contacted for comment. They noted that they stand by their earlier press release in which they explained how the elections were conducted.
“Our answer is still in the first press release you reported earlier. There is nothing more we can say.
“Maybe we will respond later after you have written, but not now,” said Reverend Wilfried Diergaardt, associate General Secretary of the ELCRN.
The current Secretary General, Reverend Petrus Van Zyl – who according to Doeseb earlier admitted to irregularities at the synod, refused to comment saying Doeseb is making things up.
“Doeseb was not even at the synod. We are from the same congregation, and he was not nominated for that synod. He is just saying things he hears from people that were at the synod,” was all he could say.
Doeseb on the other hand says he is determined to push for a solution to the ongoing feud, in order to reveal the truth.
“If Kameeta is a man of god like he claims, why does he not call for re-election? This whole election should be declared null and void. We should elect again. What is he afraid of? It is that, or we will go to court,” Doeseb threatened.