Chieftaincy battle: Hage can't intervene

13 August 2019 | Cultural

Urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga says President Hage Geingob cannot intervene in the Uukwangali Traditional Authority chieftainship battle because the matter is before court.

Mushelenga also pointed out that his predecessor, Sophia Shaningwa, should not have approved nor designated Eugene Siwombe Kudumo as chief of the Vakwangali community without following the proper procedures and sidestepping pending court orders.

Mushelenga made the remarks in response to a request by the Uukwangali Traditional Authority representative, Hiskia Siteketa, for Geingob to intervene in the succession dispute.

Siteketa had made the request at the president's town hall meeting at Rundu on Friday.

“For the traditional authority to ask the president to intervene ... when you have appealed to the court? It does not work like that,” Mushelenga said.

Severanus Siteketa and Kudumo both applied to the ministry to be designated as chief of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority after the death of Chief Sitentu Daniel Mpasi in 2014. Kudumo's application was approved by Shaningwa. Mushelenga explained how Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula had set aside Kudumo's appointment in October 2016.

Angula's judgment was based on the fact that Shaningwa had approved Kudumo's application although an investigation into a petition by those objecting to the application was still ongoing.

The ministry and Kudumo unsuccessfully appealed against Judge Angula's ruling.

Despite their pending court application, Shaningwa on 15 February 2017 decided to designate Kudumo as chief of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority.

Mushelenga says this decision was wrong.

“The minister (Shaningwa) was not supposed to proceed when there was still a pending court order,” Mushelenga said.

He further explained that it was on that basis that Rudolf Ngondo and Siteketa, as well as 20 others, turned to the court to oppose Kudumo's designation.

Following the previous court rulings and the arguments raised by the Ngondo and others, Judge Harald Geier ruled on 6 March this year that Kudumo's designation as chief of the traditional authority by Shaningwa be put aside.

This meant that the process of designating a new chief should have started afresh.

The ministry then withdrew from the matter, but a persistent Kudumo approached a new lawyer and appealed to the Supreme Court against Judge Geier's ruling.

By law, if someone appeals against a court order, that order is put on hold until there is an appeal court ruling.

In this case it means that Kudumo is still the chief of the Uukwangali Traditional Authority until the Supreme Court decides to either put aside the High Court ruling or uphold it, Mushelenga said. However, the minister said if he were the new lawyer approached by Kudumo he would not have advised him to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“If I were the second lawyer and read this judgment, I would say, Hompa, you have no case. We can appeal but I do not see a different court coming to a different argument,” Mushelenga said.