The Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, struck a defiant note yesterday in saying the government was not planning to buckle to Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro’s demands.
Though he has been recognised as chief, Rukoro is unhappy his chieftainship is confined to Aminius Constituency as he wants his constituency to be expanded to other parts of the country.
“If Rukoro is not satisfied with the government’’s response to his application then he can take us to the highest court if he wants but as far as I am concerned we are acting according to the law of this country,” stated Shaningwa.
Since his appointment as the Ovaherero paramount chief last year Rukoro has been battling with government for broader recognition.
Rukoro succeeds late Chief Kuaima Riruako, who died aged 79 in Windhoek on June 2, 2014 after a short illness.
Last week at Okahandja, Rukoro expressed his dismay with the government decision not to recognise him as paramount chief of the Ovaherero.
He accuses government of using ‘Bantu style’ tactics by confining the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) to Aminuis.
“We shall not accept this, not today, tomorrow or ever,” he vowed.
However, Shaningwa stresed that the government will not bow to Rukoro demands and “if he wants he can take government to the highest court in the country”.
“We are following the law of this country and Rukoro participated in drafting it,” says Shaningwa.
She says if Rukoro is replacing the late Chief Riruako it is not a problem but if he is to extend his area of jurisdiction then government’s hands are tied in that regard.
Shaningwa explained government is not against Rukoro being a paramount chief but rather his idea to expand his area of jurisdiction.
According to Rukoro, in his application for recognition he indicated he had followers in Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Erongo and Kunene regions, and the Vaalgras village in the Karas Region and others, and therefore government should not confine him to Aminuis Constituency only.
He said according to law the authority of any chief is not territorial or geographically-based, but rather based on subjects or followers, irrespective of where they reside.
Rukoro is adamant the late Chief Riruako had at the time mentioned Aminuis Reserve in his application as the area where the OTA office would be headquartered but definitely not as his area of jurisdiction.
Shaningwa says Rukoro cannot be allowed to be a chief in other constituencies as there are other chiefs in those areas.
“What will happen to other chiefs in those areas?” she asked.
Furthermore, Shaningwa says she will not allow herself to be bullied.
“This is a straightforward story, I don’t know why we are going on about it. If Rukoro is to replace the late Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako then it is a cut and paste issue,” stressed Shaningwa.
“I have been reading disturbing things in the media this past week whereby I am called names and if that is true then that’s bullying, and I will not let myself be bullied,” she stated.
“If Rukoro is underestimating this office then he must go and approach the highest court,” she added.
Shaningwa says as a lawyer Rukoro should understand that she is just following the laws of the country.