Shambyu chieftainship battle rages on
The royal houses have been at loggerheads regarding who will succeed late chief Angelina Matumbo Ribebe, who died on 14 June 2015.
13 September 2021 | Local News
The High Court last Thursday ruled that a 2019 decision by former urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga to approve an application by Sofia Mundjembe Kanyetu and designate her as the chief of the Shambyu Traditional Authority be put aside.
The judgement by Judge Thomas Masuku follows an application by Maria Ukamba Haindaka, who also has her sights on the Shambyu throne, who approached the court to be accorded fair treatment by the state as far as the chieftainship is concerned.
The Shambyu royal houses have been at loggerheads regarding who will succeed late chief Angelina Matumbo Ribebe, who died on 14 June 2015.
According to Shambyu customary law on succession, it is accepted that chieftaincy follows the matrilineal lineage.
The Mukwahepo and the Mwengere are both such matrilineal clans.
Following the death of Ribebe, the Mwengere clan nominated Kanyetu to be the chief of the tribe, while the Mukwahepo nominated Maria Kanyanda, who died in 2017.
Subsequently, the Mukwahepo clan nominated Haindaka to replace the late Kanyanda.
Kanyetu and Haindaka had to apply to the urban and rural development ministry, which will make a determination and eventually designate a chief for the tribe.
As part of the application, applicants are required to secure the signature of the tribe’s chiefs’ council.
The Shambyu chiefs’ council opted to only sign Kanyetu application and not Haindaka’s.
On 21 February 2017, Haindaka forwarded her application to the ministry without the required signature. On 31 October 2019, Mushelenga wrote to Haindaka regarding the application, and she was given until 10 November 2019 to secure the outstanding signature.
The council again refused to sign the application, which led to Mushelenga on 12 November 2019 designating Kanyetu as the chief of the tribe.
It was on that basis Haindaka approached the court to review and set aside Mushelenga’s decision as well as the decision by the council not to sign her application.
Mushelenga, President Hage Geingob, the Shambyu Traditional Authority, Kanyetu, the Council of Traditional Leaders and the chiefs’ council were respondents in the matter.
The court ordered that Mushelenga’s decision be set aside, and ruled that his 31 October 2019 decision to ask Haindaka to rectify her application stands.
The chiefs’ council has been compelled to assist Haindaka and sign her application within 15 days.
The court also ruled that the urban and rural development minister should consider the Traditional Authorities Act, resolve the dispute between the two clans and further exercise his powers to designate a chief.