Ombadja chief responds to tribalism claims

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Windhoek

Chief of the Ombadja Traditional Authority Matias Walaula says unsubstantiated allegations of discrimination and tribalism against non-Oshimbadja-speaking people in his jurisdiction could not be further from the truth.

The Ovambadja are primarily situated in Okalongo, an area that also boasts a healthy population of people of other ethnic groups, including Oshiwambo speakers – mainly Ovakwanyama and Aakwambi.
Onandjaba is a settlement in Okalongo – dubbed the ‘capital’ of the district.

With a rush for land at Onandjaba reaching new heights in recent years, there have been complaints that the Ovambadja are being overlooked when land is sold, an allegation that the settlement office has always denied.

In October last year, New Era reported that the Omusati Regional Council had recommended that its control administrative officer for Onandjaba, Amandus Kandowa, be removed from office with immediate effect amid allegations of allocating land illegally without the recommendation of the Settlement Development Committee (SDC), as revealed by the council’s audit report.

The regional council also said at the time that Kandowa’s personal safety was in danger, because of the discontent among the majority of Ovambadja people. The Ovambadja have since been accused of tribalism, with claims that they do not want other ethnic groups in the area.

Chief Walaula, in his New Year’s message to his subjects, said there have been no incidences of tribalism reported to his office.

“To date no credible substantiation of such allegation could be presented to the traditional authority for action,” he said in a statement seen by New Era.

He said “such allegations are meant to disturb and destabilise the reining peace amongst the leaders of the traditional authority and inhabitants” and should be promptly nipped in the bud.

“The community is cautioned that the talks of unsubstantiated tribalism may wipe away the gains of progress [made] thus far. They should refrain from spreading rumours and half-truths… but look at the merit of the matter and its logical conclusion,” the chief said in a rare public pronouncement.

“The law is a good thing… It is meant to protect the innocent and to punish those who have erred. Its application is non-discriminatory, but purely based on case law and defendable precedencies of the former incidences.

“Thus, those who err and conduct themselves outside the law shall face the full force of the law and get befitting sanctions. Such sanctions should, therefore, not be interpreted as tribalism or discrimination, but rather as an action by a legitimate body to correct the unbecoming behaviour.”

Walaula also lashed out at government’s perceived reluctance to upgrade the status of Onandjaba, which has remained a settlement since independence. Oshikuku and Ruacana, which were declared settlements at the same time as Onandjaba, have since been upgraded to village councils and are now town councils. “I appeal for speed in this regard, especially for the settlement status upgrade,” the chief said.

In February 2013, residents of Okalongo marched to the Omusati Regional Council offices at Outapi – under then Governor Sophia Shaningwa – to express their unhappiness with the economic stagnation and lack of development in the constituency.

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