No retreat, no surrender

30 October 2019 | Local News

The committee established by the Hambukushu tribe, which wants Fumu (Chief) Erwin Munika Mbambo to relinquish power, say they have not given up and want to approach the High Court.

The chairperson of the pressure group, Casius Mukenah, says they have decided to take the legal route because they feel that the urban and rural development ministry has not dealt with the matter to their satisfaction.

“We are sourcing money and as soon as we collect the money we are targeting, we will approach the High Court,” Mukenah said.

“The ministry has not given us a response, just like I said the last time, and if the ministry fails to give us feedback, we have to go the High Court. For us it is better to go to the High Court, we can never surrender.”

Mukenah said their supporters have already started contributing funds while others have offered cattle to help the committee take the matter to court.

When contacted for comment, Hambukushu Traditional Authority spokesperson Erwin Disho said he was not in a position to comment before engaging with the fumu. He promised that they would soon respond to the latest developments. The committee conducted a referendum in the Hambukushu district on Mbambo's chieftaincy almost exactly a year ago, on 7 November 2018. It claims that out of the 2 931 people who participated, 2 705 votes were cast against Mbambo. The committee has accused the chief of blocking much-needed development within the traditional authority's area of jurisdiction.

However, a month after the committee's referendum, scores of Mbambo's supporters organised a meeting to show their support for the chief, and said the referendum was illegal and should be declared null and void.

Some of Mbambo's supporters alleged that certain influential top government officials were behind the committee that wants to oust the chief.

No comment could be obtained from urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga by the time of going to print.

Earlier this year the committee took a swing at Mushelenga after his ministry pronounced itself on the Ondonga Traditional Authority chieftainship while that of the Hambukushu was still hanging in the balance. They cited a number of letters they had written to the ministry but said they received no feedback.

In June, Mushelenga cleared the air and presented the ministry's position on the matter.

Mushelenga told Namibian Sun that his ministry only has the power to inform the president about the removal of a chief if the process under section 8 of the Traditional Authorities Act is complied with.

Section 8 states that if there is sufficient reason to warrant the removal of a chief or head of a traditional community from office, the leader may be removed by the members of his or her traditional community in accordance with customary law.

“First, the petition from the Hambukushu requested the minister to settle their disputes in terms of section 12(1) of the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000,” Mushelenga said.

“Following their petition, the community has been informed in writing on 21 August 2018 by the executive director that the aforesaid provision in the Act is for chieftainship succession disputes and that the removal of chiefs falls under section 8 of the Act.

“Accordingly, they were informed to follow their customary law on removal. "Section 8 clearly states that the minister only comes in to notify the president of the removal - see section 8(3) - but the minister doesn't remove chiefs,” Mushelenga said. He said the ministry did not receive a letter from the committee saying how they had followed section 8 of the Traditional Authority Act to remove Chief Mbambo and its on that basis he could not make a pronouncement.

The minister even cited the national broadcaster's footage of a meeting held on 10 December 2018 at which some Hambukushu community members rejected the removal of the chief.

“Further, what we know is that there was a meeting reported on NBC TV news, with visuals of the community, which rejected the removal of the chief.”

Mukenah says it is impossible that Mushelenga had not received their letter, as he responded on 19 November 2018.

“If we did not inform the ministry on how we followed section 8, what letter did he respond to on 19 November 2018? What document was he studying? Where is the response he promised?” Mukenah asked.



KENYA KAMBOWE

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