Uukwangali chief yet to apply for recognition

Ball in royal family’s court

06 July 2021 | Cultural

KENYA KAMBOWE

RUNDU

It has been seven months since the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Uukwangali Chief Eugene Siwombe Kudumo to be recognised by the state, yet there has been no move from the royal family to have a chief recognised by the state.

According to the Uukwangali Traditional Authority chairperson, Hamunyera Hambyuka, the matter is being dealt with by the royal family.

“I did not get anything from the royal family. It is still with the royal family. If they are pursuing it, I wouldn’t know. Nevertheless, they never forwarded anything to the office,” Hambyuka said.

“If they happen to apply, the form has to come to the office and it has to be stamped and taken to the governor’s office and forwarded to the ministry. For now, there is nothing.”

Kudumo remains the chief of the Vakwangali tribe but he is not recognised by the state. His appeal to the Supreme Court against a 2019 High Court ruling that his designation was invalid, hit a brick wall last November.

In March, Hambyuka told this publication that the process of installing a chief for the traditional authority would not start afresh despite there being an opposition group which aims to dethrone Kudumo.

Invalid

In 2019, High Court Judge Harald Geier set aside Kudumo's designation as chief of the traditional authority by then minister of urban and rural development Sophia Shaningwa on 15 February 2017.

Geier declared his designation “invalid and of no force or effect” and Kudumo was de-gazetted.

Kudumo took the matter to the Supreme Court, where he ran into a brick wall.

The chieftaincy wrangle follows the death of Kudumo's grandfather, Chief Sitentu Daniel Mpasi, in 2014.

The anti-Kudumo faction is headed by Andreas Kamukwanyama.

The Kamukwanyama-led committee previously told Namibian Sun that they planned to designate a new chief for the tribe.

Last year, Kudumo labelled those trying to remove him from the position he has held since 2015 as “criminals” and “foreigners”.

Designated vs recognised

Regarding the Supreme Court ruling, Kudumo blamed Shaningwa for using the term “designate”.

According to him, chiefs are not “designated” by the government but rather “recognised” in accordance with the Traditional Authorities Act.

“The government only recognises you as a hompa and what the government nullified is the then minister who just made a mistake by saying ‘designate’ when she was supposed to just approve,” Kudumo claimed.

“So, we followed the right procedure. I am still the hompa [chief]; we only look for recognition from government.

“This group, they customarily don't have the right to grab the key of the office. We must distinguish between chieftainship and traditional authority.

“If you are going to grab the key, you are just going to start a coup. We will not allow them to do as they please. I have thousands of supporters, while they are just nine to 100. I remain the hompa of the Vakwangali,” he said.

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