By Kuvee Kangueehi
Residents of Otjinene and Epukiro constituencies have requested the intervention of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development in a demarcation dispute that has erupted in the Omaheke Region.
The dispute between the two constituencies is about whether traditional authorities, which are situated in the Otjinene constituency, have jurisdiction to preside over traditional court cases and allocate land in the Epukiro constituency.
The Regional Councillor of the Epukiro constituency, Brave Tjizera, says that traditional authorities that are based in Otjinene have no authority in the Epukiro constituency because Epukiro does have traditional authorities that have that mandate.
Tjizera called on the traditional authorities of Otjinene and its regional councillor, Nguvitjita Toromba, to respect the sovereignty of the Epukiro constituency and not to meddle in administrative matters of the Epukiro constituency.
He noted that it is not prudent for more than one traditional authority to have jurisdiction over a single area because this can create conflict.
The Ovaherero Royal Authority under Chief Alphons Maharero is the recognised traditional authority in the Otjinene constituency, while the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority under the Nguvauva Royal House is recognised in Epukiro.
However, Toromba believes that political demarcation has no bearing on the jurisdiction of traditional leaders. He said traditional authorities based in Otjinene can preside over cases and allocate land in the Epukiro constituency.
Toromba said the fact that administration of Epukiro is under its constituency office is not in dispute. What is in dispute is whether or not traditional authorities that are based in Otjinene but have some of their subjects in the Epukiro constituency have a legal right to be involved in the affairs of their subjects.
Toromba cited an example of the Ondonga Traditional Authority, saying that although the authority is situated in Oshana, it has jurisdiction to preside over matters in the Oshikoto as well as the Omusati Region.
He added that he even consulted officials from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development and was informed that it is the practice in other parts of the country and law allows this.
Some residents of Epukiro constituency who, before the demarcation, were under the Otjinene constituency and who are mainly under the Maharero Traditional Authority, say they cannot subject themselves to the rule of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority in the Epukiro constituency.
The residents claim that they have a language barrier and speak Otjiherero, which is different from Otjimbanderu and demand that the Ovaherero Traditional Authority should preside over them.
Tjizera dismisses these claims saying the remarks can only cause division. He says there is little difference between the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu who share one language and inter marry.
Otjinene was a single constituency after independence but was split into Otjinene and Epukiro constituencies before the 2004 national elections.