Ondonga: Geingob ropes in Pohamba, Nujoma
31 August 2018 | Justice
President Hage Geingob is in the process of appointing a presidential advisory committee that will include his two predecessors, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, in a bid to resolve the Ondonga leadership dispute.
This was revealed in papers filed in the Oshakati High Court yesterday, where Ondonga king Immanuel Kauluma Elifas’s lawyer, Elia Shikongo, lodged an appeal against a court decision that the king must testify.
The court is hearing a matter in which seven dismissed leaders of the Ondonga traditional authority are challenging their firing by the king in July last year.
The spectre of the ailing king having to testify has sparked interventions by Nujoma as well as Geingob, who held talks with the warring factions at State House recently.
In his notice of motion, Shikongo referred to this State House intervention, saying Geingob was in the process of appointing a presidential advisory committee to mediate the conflict.
On 9 August, Judge Maphios Cheda granted an order that compels Elifas to give oral testimony.
Shikongo is now appealing this decision and added that the matter should stand down until the appeal is finalised.
Elifas and his five new councillors, who are also respondents in the matter, were not present at court yesterday.
“The king is not happy with the court order and he would like to appeal the order,” Shikongo said.
Shikongo asked the court to strike the matter from the roll, or postpone it, so that the king could exercise his rights.
“I point out for what is worth that, in the meanwhile, both parties received invitations from, and attended on, State House to meet with the President Hage Geingob and other dignitaries in an attempt to mediate and settle the dispute between the applicants and the respondents,” Shikongo told the court.
“I emphasise that the president made it abundantly clear that he does not intend to interfere with the independence of the court, but intends to merely mediate a dispute.
“At that meeting the president advised that he shall appoint a presidential advisory committee, comprising of the former heads of state, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, to mediate the dispute between the parties. This process has not yet been finalised.”
The dismissed councillors hit back through their lawyer, Elize Angula, who said Shikongo was abusing the court process to delay justice.
“The order of the judge is not appealable. The king is the chief of the community and he must testify on his decision and actions that have caused division within the community of Ondonga. Other chiefs have appeared before the court in the past and therefore he is also not above the law,” Angula stressed.
“Shikongo must tell the court that the king is unable to testify in court instead of giving excuses with these applications, which are just abuses of court processes. I am opposing the appeal and the postponement; the only postponement is to when the king is coming to testify.”
Cheda granted the king leave to appeal and also indicated that a date would have to be set to decide whether the matter would proceed to the Supreme Court.