Local authorities urged to engage traditional authorities

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Omuthiya

The Ondonga Traditonal Authority (OTA) wants local authorities to consult with traditional authorities on land earmarked for development, to mitigate possible conflict.

It further wants local authorities to engage them in proclaiming settlements.
The former governor of Oshikoto Region Vilho Kamanya did the pleading when he spoke on behalf of the Ondonga Traditional Authority at the town hall meeting with President Hage Geingob that took place in Oshikoto on Monday.

He said failure to involve traditional authorities would create conflict between the people to be relocated and those already occupying the land.

“The king and his council want to be involved from the initiation stage until the settlement is proclaimed,” said Kamanya.

The same should happen when roads are built, he added.
Kamanya said the king’s council also wants construction companies to engage with traditional authorities that will in turn consult with the affected communities.The president concurred with Kamanya’s sentiments.

Geingob said it is vital to consult the people on the ground, but added that consultations should not be mistaken for asking for permission.

He said that while it is important to consult, government should not be seen to be begging traditional authorities to grant land for development.

“Government is in charge, but it is fair to notify the people on the ground so that they can also participate in development projects that come to their areas,” he said.
Geingob said consultations should not only take place in certain areas but they should apply everywhere, even in existing towns.

However, Geingob did not support the idea of individual companies consulting with the traditional authorities.
According to Geingob, line ministries should converse with the local authorities to prevent corrupt practices.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) Presiding Bishop Shekutaamba Nambala informed Geingob that churches “are unable to pay for land once a church finds itself in the town’s boundaries”, calling on the government to intervene.

Nambala explained that with the proclamation of towns in many parts of the country, churches find themselves in a predicament as they “cannot afford the price charged by local authorities”.

Geingob advised the churches to take the matter up with the concerned local authorities.
Nambala also expressed concern about the influx of family-run churches that are “misleading” the nation.

“What these little churches or family churches are telling people is unbiblical, immoral and unethical,” he said.
However, the president reiterated that while the churches remain a concern, Namibia does not have an officially sanctioned state religion, hence all religions are treated as equal.

But the president reckons a balance could be struck between trying to minimize the potentially negative impact of some churches and ensuring that citizens have the right to associate with a faith of their choice.

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