Traditional leaders urged to avoid succession fights

Martin Endjala

President Hage Geingob has urged traditional leaders to inspire their communities and to division among themselves at the 23rd annual meeting of the council of traditional leaders that started in Eenhana today.

“We call on you as elders to continue to guide and to inspire communities. With your strength, with your support and with your patriotism, I am confident that Namibia and its people will overcome all challenges and obstacles and ascend to the heights of continued peace, national harmony and shared prosperity,” Geingob reiterated.

Urban and Rural Development Minister Erastus Uutoni read the President’s address during the opening of the meeting at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region.

The Council of Traditional Leaders has since its inception served, as an important symbol and source of unity in diversity. The President said that as traditional leaders, they have helped in shaping the

structure and foundation of society, emphasizing that, through traditional leaders, they are ‘’reminded that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become tomorrow.

He further stressed that they are a vital component in underpinning the diverse and shared cultural and national identity, regardless of cultural, tribal and political differences.

The president said that people should not allow themselves to be divided by own interests or purpose, ‘’but to rather have a common destiny, which is shaped by the decisions and actions we take as one people united in diversity’’.

Leaders at all levels, he continued, should set a good example and inspire those who are entrusted in their care and leadership to follow suit, pointing out that the nation looks up to them for inspirational teachings as well as guidance.

However, the president expressed his disappointment, as the country continues to witness instances of fragmentation, power struggles and leadership succession disputes in a number of traditional communities.

In many instances, he said, the government has been dragged into avoidable disputes, which not only cause divisions among communities, but are also time and resource consuming.

Geingob stated that the time, energy and resources that is being devoted to such disputes could have been best spent on matters of priority such as the war against poverty and unemployment.

Furthermore, the government continues to be inundated with applications for recognition of new traditional authorities, communities and leaders.

Geingob said that the government cannot have a situation where there is a perpetual proliferation of traditional communities and chieftainships which are often premised on self-serving personal interests, preference and ambitions, while all these years they have peacefully resorted under one traditional authority and leader, sharing the same customs, values, language and culture without any problem.

He said that there are legitimate cases for recognition, but facts should be established beyond reasonable doubt, which is based on thorough investigations. “At this juncture, I call on Government Ministries such as the line Ministry and the Office of the Attorney-General, to speed up the processing and conclusion of cases presented to them, so as to avoid such matters escalating into crises and disillusionment on the part of the parties who presented them,’’ The president stated.

The president in his address also tackled traditional authorities and leaders who have been encouraging illegal fencing of communal land and allocation of communal lands, and the proceeds of such illegal actions which benefit them. This he warned is a corrupt practice and must be nipped in the bud immediately.

Geingob highlighted that traditional authorities and leaders have an integral role to play in the promotion and creation of conditions for the empowerment and protection of the rights and safety of women and children in society, therefore, he applauded the stance of traditional leaders against gender-based violence and once again call on them to do more and to continue to work with the government and law enforcement agencies, in rooting out all forms of violence, discrimination and crime in general.

By Observer