WINDHOEK – Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) secretary Nepando Amupanda has blamed government for what he termed the ‘mutiny or turmoil’ currently haunting the authority and its jurisdiction.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga, Amupanda said government ‘reluctance’ in the degazetting of the dismissed traditional councillors and the gazetting of the newly appointed traditional councillors has led to the confusion which exists in Ondonga community.
But Mushelenga, in a replying letter, hit back saying: “This is a serious averment which is both wrong and bad in law. I would like to draw your attention to the doctrine of lis pendens in the law, which states that the jurisdiction of a matter is kept by an institution which first seized with it.”
In this case, Mushelenga said, the matter of dismissal of traditional councillors is before the court and any involvement by himself in the sub-judice matter will amount to the Executive interfering in the powers of the Judiciary.
“Namibia is a country governed by law as enshrined in article 1 of the Namibian Constitution and this provision prohibits arbitrary decision,” said Mushelenga in the letter dated April 26 this year. Accordingly, he said as a minister he is guided by the legal principle in the execution of his duties as he has taken oath to up-hold, protect and defend the constitution and faithfully obey, execute and administer the laws of the country.
“As such, your request for the degazetting of the dismissal councilors and the gazetting of the newly appointed councillors cannot be grated as government has to wait and be guided by the verdict of the court in the matter,” he said. Amupanda said government’s delays in de-gazetting dismissed traditional councillors and gazetting of new appointed councillors has led to the dismissed councillors creating their own ‘so called’ Ondonga Community Court (OCC) at Punyu Hotel in Onethindi, on the proviso that government still numerate them.
“Your recognition provided the dismissed councillors with the power to act against Omukwaniilwa Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, as they [dismissed councillors] claimed that he [Omukwaniilwa] has no power to discharge them from duties,” said Amupanda, in a letter dated March 20 this year. He said dismissed traditional councillors are now busy mobilising Ondonga community members not to come to OTA to pay their houses, cuca shops and business levies.
“Now, it is a bible and a sword in the same hand. Such against that background, the dismissed councillors claimed that they had power to do so, means to fight back Omukwaniilwa’s decision. Hence is our view, your honourable, your two respective ministries [Ministry of Urban and Ministry of Justice] hold responsible for munity or turmoil existing in Ondonga community,” said Amupanda.
He said this is because since Mushelenga’s visit at Omukwaniilwa at Onamungundo Palace, he was provided with a brief note that clearly stated everything of which Omukwaniilwa was waiting for Mushelenga’s wise response, “until now he is in a dilemma.”
The dispute among the Ondonga started in April last year when Kauluma suspended councillors John Walenga, Peter Kauluma (his nephew), Ondonga Traditional Authority secretary Joseph Asino and Vilho Kamanya. In total, eight traditional councillors were suspended.