Govt cannot spend time on tribal squabbles – Geingob

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Selma Ikela

Windhoek-President Hage Geingob says he is disappointed that one third of government’s time is spent on dealing with traditional issues and disputes.

Geingob said it was a concern that a government, whose purpose is to govern and provide schools, hospitals, infrastructures, address poverty and corruption is made to spend third of its time occupied with traditional authority issues.

Geingob was speaking during the meeting with a delegation of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama Council for Dialogue (ONCD) on the 1904- 1908 genocide at State House yesterday. The delegation included leaders of traditional authorities.

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Willem Konjore highlighted that some of the issues of concerns they wanted the president to address included the paramount chieftaincy status, land bill and the genocide negotiation framework.

Geingob said government’s time is now occupied with fights over recognition, non-recognition or car allowances.

“Come on…if you are a chief you are supposed to be sustained by your people for you to be respected by us,” Geingob remarked while referring to the late Chief Hosea Kutako, saying he did not get a cent from the Boers back then.

He questioned why these leaders approach government with it is traditional issues, and said government had other bigger problems than dealing with squabbles between traditional authorities.

Konjore said they took note of the oversight in the government gazette, which deals with the recognition of Vekuii Rukoro as the paramount chief of the Ovaherero people.
According to Konjore, Rukoro has been accorded special recognition unlike other chiefs that are restricted to communal areas in accordance with Traditional Authority Act 25 of 2000.

“It becomes difficult to refute this allegation because two government gazettes signed by the president confirm this. The second gazette, which is supposed to correct the initial gazette creates more confusion,” Konjore remarked.

He further said they took note of Rukoro bringing a class action case before the Southern District Court of New York against Germany, but three groups did not give him a mandate to act on their behalf on genocide or on any other traditional issue.

With regard to the land bill, Konjore further stated they appreciated the fact that President Geingob had postponed the tabling of the land bill in parliament to allow proper consultation on the issue of land, which was sensitive.

“As you have notice it was one of the issues we wanted to raise with you in order to establish a common understanding instead of making noise in the media.

“Nevertheless, the land issue features prominently in our position paper in the ongoing negotiations over a genocide apology and reparations. We declare that we have a vested interest in matters related to the land tenure system in Namibia,” Konjore said.

He noted that it was important to stress that land and genocide were inseparable because the Germans committed genocide in order to acquire land.

“It is our expectation that the line ministry will consult the ONCD on the envisaged land conference,” Konjore added.

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