RUNDU – A politically instigated feud is causing division in the !Oe-#gan Traditional Authority where its subjects, many of them UDF followers, want their Swapo-aligned chief to resign.
The Okombahe community, which is under the grip of the UDF, has called for the resignation of the chief, Gaob Immanuel ≠Nu-axa /Gaseb, because he does not reside in the area which he leads.
/Gaseb currently resides in Windhoek on a full-time basis where he serves as the Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Namibia.
The concerned group also accused /Gaseb of being unfair towards his non-Swapo subjects.
“We went to see him earlier this year in Windhoek to convey the concerns of the community but he refused to listen to us or even come to the community. He just said that he will not go to Okombahe because it is full of UDF supporters,” said the deputy chairperson of the Okombahe Technical Committee, Gerson Doeseb, during an exlusive interview with New Era on Tuesday.
Doeseb lashed out at /Gaseb for failing to allegedly differentiate between his role as a traditional leader and a politician.
“He is a traditional leader and not a politician; therefore he must lead all of his subjects regardless of their political, religious or financial background. He must remember government will come and go but the community will remain,” cautioned Doeseb.
Doeseb urged /Gaseb to relinquish his position as leader of the traditional authority if he is not willing to treat all his subjects equally.
On Tuesday, New Era ran a story in which /Gaseb called on government to strip squabbling traditional authorities engaged in succession battles of their status and at the same time lose government support.
“It is my conviction that government must de-gazette disputing traditional authorities until they solve their problems … government cannot continue spending on traditional authorities that are having succession battles and pending court cases,” stated /Gaseb in Tuesday’s story.
Although Doeseb concurred with /Gaseb’s sentinments, he wants the !Oe-#gan Traditional Authority to be de-gazetted first because the subjects do not want to be ruled by someone who is not a resident of the area.
“He must lead by example, he wants other traditional authorities to be de-gazetted, if that is the case then government must start with us because there is also infighting,” said Doeseb.
Contacted for comment, / Gaseb laughed off the allegations saying “the issue is politically motivated because the elections are around the corner.”
“I have a farm in Okombahe and I always go there, I am there every week and I hold meetings with my people, we even held a meeting last week,” said the chief.
He added that Okombahe is not the only place under his jurisdiction; hence he needs to allocate his time accordingly to all his subjects.
“Okombahe is not the only area under my jurisdiction, what about Spitzkoppe, Uis, Tubuses and even some parts of Omaruru and Arandis, these people all need my attention,” he further stated. “Doeseb must get out of Okombahe and go and look for a job. He was the one troubling Bishop Zephania Kameeta and now he is starting with me seeing that the elections are approaching,” charged /Gaseb.
“Even comrade Pohamba or Chief Justus Garoeb do not reside in the areas they lead, why should it be a problem with me?” he queried.
/Gaseb said he is not the secretary of the traditional authorities’ tribal office, hence he sees no reason to sit in the office.
“If he wants to talk to me he must come to me with respect and make an appointment so that we can sit and talk. That man does not have respect for the leaders, first he was troubling the bishop and now he is starting with me,” said an irked /Gaseb.
I do not understand why the opposition parties always have to be the ones fighting with the traditional leaders
“I have my Chief Council members who hold meetings with the communities and if there are serious problems then I will attend to them,” /Gaseb said.
According to the Traditional Authorities Act, No 25 of 2000 a member of a traditional authority shall in addition to the functions referred to in subsection (1) ordinarily be a resident of the communal area of the traditional community which he or she leads, failing which such traditional leader may be removed from office, if he or she is a chief or a head of a traditional community.
With regard to the limitation of powers of traditional authorities, the Act states that a traditional leader shall not permit his or her political opinions or allegiance to influence the functions of his or her office as traditional leader; or the members of the traditional community in respect of which he or she was designated and recognized, or appointed or elected, as the case may be.
By Mathias Haufiku