The inhabitants of Muyako in the Zambezi Region are adamant the bulk of villages in their area fall under the control of Masubia Chief Kisco Liswani III.
The two royal houses of Chief Liswani III and Mafwe Chief George Simasiku Mamili are mired in a protracted tug-of-war over which khuta controls the disputed locality of Muyako – dotted by dozens of villages.
On Sunday, several Muyako villagers swore the area being contested falls under Chief Liswani III and they reiterated that out of 68 villages in the locality of Muyako, 65 headmen and their tribal minions pay unadulterated loyalty to Chief Liswani III.
“If we include the 29 villages at Iseke that is also part of Muyako and this brings to 94 villages in Muyako paying their allegiance to the Munitenge,” they said in unison referring to Chief Liswani III’s honorific.
They further maintained that the only tribal authority that has a sub-khuta in Muyako is that of Chief Liswani III and the traditional authority at Bukalo enjoys exclusive mandate to issue letters of consent for the registration of all villages in Muyako.
Villagers, who included senior headmen at Muyako, insisted only three settlements in Muyako fall under the jurisdiction of Chief Mamili and some of these villagers have in recent weeks apparently indicated they want to switch allegiance to Liswani III.
They also revealed that Mapepa Lukubwe, the induna of one of the three villages falling under Chief Mamili with his sisters, had indicated he wants to change loyalty from Chief Mamili to Chief Liswani III.
Induna Mapepa reportedly indicated his change of allegiance on March 5 this year and again on April 8 this year.
Ngambela Albius Kamwi – delegated to speak on behalf of Chief Liswani III – echoed the sentiments expressed by Muyako residents.
To substantiate his views, Ngambela Kamwi referred New Era to the letter addressed to Chief Mamili by John Pandeni, the late minister of the then ministry of regional and local government, housing and rural development dated February 12, 2007.
The Council of Traditional Leaders based its advice and subsequent recommendations on an investigation it conducted in 2003.
“The house recommended that Muyako area be under the jurisdiction of Masubia Traditional Authority,” the Ngambela quoted a letter signed in 2006 by the former president Hifikepunye Pohamba that turned the tide in favour of the khuta at Bukalo.
Villagers and the Ngambela also made reference to a previous vote by the Council of Traditional Leaders on the same issue in which 47 chiefs had voted in support of the argument and evidence presented by Chief Liswani III in comparison to only seven chiefs who voted in support of Chief Mamili.
Ngambela Patrick Likukela who speaks on behalf of Chief Mamili said: “I don’t know anything about 65 villages at Muyako falling under the khuta at Bukalo and as I am speaking to you I am seated with other indunas but I can assure you we don’t know about those 65 villages you mentioned.
“But I would advise you to visit Muyako to verify that unverified report because in the past journalists from Windhoek used to come here to probe and verify the accuracy of reports of that nature,” said Likukela.
The Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa said she has not yet apprised herself with the issue regarding the dispute at Muyako.
“I don’t think I have seen that information on my desk,” she told New Era yesterday.
Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Tradition Leaders Chief Immanuel Gaseb said the house of chiefs would in three weeks give a report to President Hage Geingob on the disputed land at Muyako.
Gaseb said the Muyako land dispute is among some of the highly contentious issues being addressed by the house of chiefs, as he personally wants peace to prevail over rancour between chiefs.
He said the Muyako dispute is comparable to the unresolved territorial dispute between the Kwanyama and the Ndonga.
Chief Gaseb advised traditional courts that are at loggerheads to resolve such discord before the house of chiefs because courts have in previous instances referred these cases back to the Council of Traditional Leaders.