WINDHOEK, 16 AUG – The High Court on Thursday stopped the vaShambyu Traditional Authority from conducting an election for a new chief (hompa) in the area with immediate effect.
The vaShambyu Traditional Authority is based in the Kavango East Region. The election of the new chief in that area was scheduled to be held on Saturday at Kayengona village.
The High Court issued an immediate interdict, restraining the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga, the vaShambyu Traditional Authority, a certain Sofia Kanyetu, the officials of the Electoral Commission of Namibia and the Council of the vaShambyu Traditional Leaders (all respondents) from conducting an election for a new chief.
The election was halted in a judgement handed down by High Court Deputy Judge-President Hosea Angula Thursday, following an urgent application before court by Maria Ukamba Haindaka.
“The applicant has presented a prima facie strong case against the five respondents. Indeed, the applicant will suffer irreparable harm and damages if the respondents are allowed to go ahead with the election of the new chief in the form they want to conduct it. The officials of the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development should correctly interpret the provisions of the Traditional Authorities Act and the customary laws of the vaShambyu tribe before any election for the new chief is held in the area,” reads the ruling.
In addition, the five respondents were ordered to pay the legal costs of the applicant apart from paying the legal bills of their own lawyers.
Furthermore, the two parties will return to the Windhoek High Court in October for the hearing of the main application in respect of the arrangements of the disputed election of the new chief.
The legal wrangle relates to a decision taken by Mushelenga on 29 June 2018, granting approval for an election to determine the hompa of the vaShambyu people as per the provisions of Section 5(10) of the Traditional Authorities Act.
The dispute arose following the death of Chief Angelina Matumbo on 14 June 2015 and after the two royal houses of the tribe could not designate a successor to the chief.
According to the customary laws of the vaShambyu people, a successor of the chief should be of either the vaMukwahepo or vaMwengere lineage.
However, the two aforesaid clans could not agree on a successor in 2015 and in 2016 the two clans nominated Maria Joachim Kanyanda and Sofia Mundjembwe Kanyetu, respectively for the position of chief.
But Kanyanda died in February 2017.
In the meantime, the line minister appointed an investigation committee in respect of the clans’ failure to designate a successor and decided that an election should be conducted with Haindaka and Kanyetu as candidates.
Applicant Haindaka was not satisfied with these arrangements and approached the Windhoek High Court with the now successful urgent application to stop the election of the new chief.