Council threatens squabbling chiefs

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RUNDU – Squabbling traditional authorities engaged in succession battles must be stripped of their status and at the same time lose government support.

This sentiment was expressed by the Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Namibia, Gaob Immanuel ≠Nu-axa /Gaseb.

/Gaseb feels this could be the only way government can end the long-standing disputes within traditional authorities, a trend that seems to threaten the credibility of traditional authorities.

“It is my conviction that government must degazette disputing traditional authorities until they solve their problems … government cannot continue spending on traditional authorities that are having succession battles and pending court cases,” said /Gaseb.

The precarious situation has become so worrisome that the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development recently dispatched an investigating team around the country to probe traditional authorities engulfed in royal and succession fights.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry Sirkka Ausiku recently confirmed a team was indeed visiting traditional authorities where disputes have been reported.

“I can confirm that the minister has appointed a team to investigate all the disputed traditional authorities. Pending cases have to be investigated so that a report can be compiled … we have been doing that, it is nothing new,” explained Ausiku.

/Gaseb said traditional authorities such as Mbanderu, Simon Kooper, Blouwes, Afrikaner, Mbunza, Khun and /Khomanin are the ones mostly involved in royal disputes, adding that succession fights are one of the reasons why communities lose respect for their traditional leaders. Succession battles are mainly exacerbated by the demise of traditional authority chiefs.  “Everyone wants to be a chief nowadays, I really do not know why the sudden interest. Retired pastors and teachers are the ones who are mostly fighting to become chiefs,” he said.

“I do not know if people really want to be chiefs, or because they will be getting an allowance and a government vehicle,” said /Gaseb.

/Gaseb said most fights are also politically motivated.

Experts say government’s decision to give vehicles to all 49 recognized traditional authorities throughout the country to help them carry out their traditional responsibilities in administering the affairs of their communities, is one of the causes of the sudden increase in royal squabbles.

“For now I am still waiting for the team to come back from the field so that we can discuss the way forward,” said /Gaseb.

/Gaseb said there is a need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to broker a truce and find a lasting solution to the infighting that has been dragging on for years now.

By Mathias Haufiku

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