Namibia: Rukoro Questioned Over Controversial Appointment

The community of Otjinene in the Omaheke region is reportedly divided after Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro installed a prominent farmer in the area as one of the traditional chiefs.

Rukoro recently named Muute Tjijahura as an additional chief of the Ovaherero residing at Okehijomuramba settlement in Otjinene.

Tjijahura's appointment seems to have pitted Rukoro against prominent Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) chiefs at Otjinene such as chief Simeon Murangi and chief Usiel Kambirongo, who both also reign over Okehijomuramba.

Murangi and Kambirongo, who have been leading the community for over two decades under the OTA banner and enjoy a strong support base at Otjinene, have questioned the appointment, claiming they were not consulted over the installation of Tjijahura.

Two separate meetings were held last weekend at Otjinene, with one meeting attended by Murangi and Kambirongo's sympathisers.

Another meeting was largely attended by Rukoro's followers. Rukoro and his supporters' meeting was held under a tree well known as 'Omuti Ngauzepo' after he was barred from holding his meeting at Otjinene's OTA headquarters, while Murangi, Kambirongo and their sympathisers met at the traditional authority's Otjinene headquarters.

The Rukoro faction during the meeting reportedly accused Kambirongo of having sold communal land measuring some 35 000 hectares to outsiders, an accusation heavily disputed by Kambirongo.

Tjizapouzeu Uahupirapi who was tasked by the OTA to investigate the alleged sale of communal land by Kambirongo claimed his investigation found that Kambirongo sold off land measuring 35 000 hectares to a businessman and "outside" farmers.

"Our investigation has found that indeed chief Kambirongo has sold land measuring 14 000 hectares to a prominent businessman from the north and some other 22 000 hectares of land to other outsiders," Uahupirapi said while briefing Rukoro's meeting on Saturday.

However, those supporting Murangi and Kambirongo have been questioning as to why the investigation only focuses on Kambirongo while there were many other traditional leaders accused of selling large tracts of land in the area.

"We have advised the team to broaden the scope of the investigation to include other areas where illegal land sales also allegedly occurred. We also requested the investigation team to probe the alleged no-go areas and several cattle posts and villages around Ohomutue where no one is allowed to graze which is exclusively reserved for Tjijahura but nothing to this effect has been done," Kambirongo said.

Kambirongo added that as the OTA leader in Otjinene constituency, he has not been provided with any copy of the investigation documents.

"Until such a time all our complaints are raised with the chiefs' council, we reserve our rights not to participate in all gatherings, meeting and activities called by the chiefs' council and Rukoro," he said.

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