18 May 2017

Namibia: Traditional Leaders' Council Steers Clear of Ondonga Dispute

Windhoek — Deputy chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders (CTA) Chief Immanuel /Gaseb says the council will not intervene in the ongoing dispute between Ondonga leaders and the royal family.

The dispute - which led to one faction of Ondonga tribesmen approaching the High Court to have their king, Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, mentally tested to determine whether he is still of sound mind and fit to discharge his traditional responsibilities - has reached boiling point, with the aggrieved faction calling for the removal of Elifas's wife, Sesilia Ndapandula Elifas, from the palace.

Yesterday, /Gaseb said the council does not have a mandate to intervene into traditional authority disputes. However, he said he would in his personal capacity be travelling to Ondonga next week to hear the dispute from Kauluma himself.

"The information I have is from the media. I haven't contacted the [king] himself to hear what is actually happening," he said in response to questions from New Era.

The dispute among the Ondonga started in April 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.

President Hage Geingob earlier this year said he was disappointed that one third of government's time is spent dealing with traditional authority 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 a third of its time on resolving traditional authority issues.

Geingob said this during a meeting with a delegation of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama Council for Dialogue (ONCD) on the 1904- 1908 genocide at State House in March. He said much of government's time is occupied with fights over recognition, non-recognition and car allowances.

He further questioned why traditional leaders would approach the government with problems related to their traditional structures, as the government had many other bigger problems to deal with, rather than concentrating on the squabbles among and within traditional authorities.

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