Don't allow child marriage - Geingob

The president has urged traditional leaders to help stamp out violent crime and discrimination.

20 August 2019 | Cultural

President Hage Geingob has called on traditional leaders to do more to root out violence, discrimination and crime in the country.

He also urged them not to allow child marriages and labour, and to report such incidents.

Speaking at the opening of the 22nd annual meeting of the Council of Traditional Leaders, Geingob applauded the country's traditional leadership for their stance against gender-based violence.

He, however, said more should be done and that traditional leaders should continue to work with the government and law-enforcement agencies to root out crime.

He said traditional authorities and their leaders have a huge role to play in terms of the promotion and creation of conditions for the empowerment and protection of women and children in society.

“Do not allow, within your respective jurisdictions, the archaic cultural practices of child marriages and child labour which enslave our children to lifelong serfdom,” the president said.

Geingob said traditional leaders should rather vigorously discourage such practices, by bringing them to the attention of constituency councillors or regional governors, while ensuring that all children receive a proper education, which will help them become productive citizens of Namibia. He further expressed concern over the continued incidents of factionalism and the ongoing succession disputes.

According to him constant applications are being received for the recognition of new traditional authorities, communities and leaders.

He said if these are accommodated, it may not only become financially unsustainable, but also lead to further tribal divisions within the Namibian House.

“We cannot have a situation where people suddenly want to establish distinct traditional communities and chieftainships, premised on personal motives, preferences and ambitions, while all these years they have peacefully resorted under one traditional leader, sharing the same customs, values, language and culture without any problem.

“Where there are legitimate cases for recognition, facts should be established beyond doubt, based on thorough investigation,” the head of state said.

Geingob stressed that government's priorities are issues like nation-building and economic advancement, as opposed to unending tribal disputes, dissensions and quests for recognition.

He therefore called on all citizens, especially elders and traditional leaders, to uphold their traditional norms and customs, and avoid fuelling and planting seeds of division and dissent.

“You are the torchbearers of our cultural norms and traditions, which have as their goal, the advancement of peace, unity and the welfare of the community.”

Geingob said the Council of Traditional Leaders has the important responsibility of advising him on the control and utilisation of communal land in the country.

“This is a critical role, given the centrality of the land question to the sustenance of our hard-won peace, stability and social harmony.”

Referring to the second national land conference, which was held last year in October, Geingob said traditional leaders must play an active role in the implementation of the recommendations of the conference, and therefore urged traditional leaders to work together with the commission of inquiry on ancestral land.

ELLANIE SMIT

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