Ondonga factions smoke peace pipe

Dismissed top aides to be reinstated

31 January 2018 | Cultural

In a dramatic twist of events, the warring factions within the Ondonga Traditional Authority have reportedly buried the hatchet and this could lead to the reinstatement of senior councillors fired by King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas last year.

Tension has been mounting within Ondonga after the royal family rejected Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo as heir apparent and possible successor to the ailing Elifas.

That led to the firing of long-serving top aides of Elifas, who included the traditional authority chairperson Peter Kauluma and former secretary Joseph Asino. Several senior and ordinary councillors were also fired and replaced with officials close to the royal family.

The standoff divided the people of Ondonga and at one point the fired headmen dragged Elifas to court. However, it has now emerged that the royal family is now united on the succession issue and is backing Nangolo.

A senior member of the family and acting traditional councillor for Onethika district, Selma Gwanandjokwe Shejavali, yesterday told Namibian Sun that the fired councillors would soon be reinstated.

She also confirmed that Nangolo, who ironically had been handpicked by Elifas in September 2012, has now received the blessings of the royal family in order to restore order and unity within Ondonga.

Elifas first suspended the senior officials in April last year before dismissing them two months later.

Apart from Asino and Kauluma, the fired senior councillors included heavyweights such as John Walenga (Ondangwa district) and former Oshikoto governor Vilho Kamanya, who was in charge of Omuteya district.

The other three ordinary councillors that were fired are Kashona kaMalulu, Tonata Ngulu and Fillemon Nambili.

Shejavali said the royal family was sorting out the matter and it was only a matter of time before they were reinstated.

“It is true that the councillors will be reinstated but we have not finalised it yet, however, so far so good. The royal family came together to get to the bottom of the succession issue in order to restore peace and unity among the Ondonga community. Once we finalise everything we will inform the public,” she said.

Namibian Sun understands the decision to reinstate the fired councillors was made by the king on 14 January this year at his Onamungudo palace.

Naeman Amalwa, who was named as one of the new councillors and apparent spokesperson of Elifas, also confirmed yesterday that discussions were at an advanced stage to reinstate the fired councillors.

“The royal family has reunited and they would like the Ondonga community to be united as well. Discussions are being led by Nangolo and Shejavali,” Amalwa said.

Amalwa, who is the senior councillor for Oniimwandi district, said the talks also included reinstating the former OTA spokesperson and Oniimwandi district senior councillor Boas Mweendeleli, who was fired in 2010.

“If they reinstate Mweendeleli, I am ready to vacate the leadership for him to resume his district. I have nothing against him since he is my father-in-law,” he said.

The deputy chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Namibia, Chief Immanuel /Gâseb, said it would be a good move if the Ondonga Traditional Authority reinstated the fired leaders, owing to their experience in handling traditional authority affairs over the years.

It was reported that when these councillors were suspended from all Ondonga Traditional Council and related traditional duties and positions in Ondonga in April 2017, disciplinary hearings were held to determine whether or not there were grounds for dismissal based on the suspended councillors' alleged misconduct.

Only one councillor, Josef Akawa, attended the disciplinary hearing, while the other seven failed to attend the hearing.

According to sources privy to the affairs of the royal family, Ondonga village headman Oscar Sheehama has reportedly been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring a smooth transfer of power, while Nangolo has been the middle man between the royal family and the soon to be reinstated leaders.

The current OTA secretary, Nepando Amupanda, pleaded ignorance when contacted for comment, saying he was unaware of the new developments. He said he only knew about a committee that was tasked to deliberate on OTA leadership issues.

Some of the fired councillors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they were consulted on the royal family's decision and they would follow whatever Nangolo instructs.

If finalised, this means that the appointment of Erastus Mvula, Paavo Amweele, Rainhold Nepolo, Naeman Kambala and Amupanda, who replaced the fired councillors, would be declared invalid.

The appointment of Uukwanambwa district's senior councillor, Ester gwaShamba Nepando, will be put on hold until Wilbard Lidker's court case is finalised.