The Oukwanyama traditional authority has placed Okambebe headman Fillemon Nghipangwa on suspension after drought relief food went to waste while under his care.
Nghipangwa allegedly packed and locked the drought relief stock in his cuca shop, much to the chagrin of the local community. The traditional authority’s senior councillor for the Omungwelume district Linda Mwaetako last week confirmed the suspension, while investigations continue against the under-fire headman.
According to her, the local community has elected representatives to run the affairs of the village for the next two months. “I am advising village members to be cooperative with the selected members that are at the moment in charge of the village,” said Mwaetako.
In March this year, irate community members expressed shock and sadness over the rotting food after the headman had failed to disperse the stock to eligible villagers upon its delivery. The rotten food included 12 bags of maize meal and bottles of cooking oil.
The food was allegedly locked in the cuca shop since 2020. In an earlier interview with New Era, one of the villagers said he managed to get the inside view of the headman’s cuca shop through a window, and observed bags of maize meal packed on the floor. This revelation captured the community members’ attention, which forced them to seek help from the councillor of the Ongenga constituency.
A 65-year-old Okambebe resident told New Era that they were heartbroken because the food meant for the community was locked in a building while many are out there starving. “It is not right to keep the relief food to yourself while your people are sleeping on empty stomachs. Our headman has no sympathy at all,” the resident charged. “The headman and the committee which distributes drought relief food have failed to let the community know that the remaining food is kept or stored in that cuca shop. If that was done, the food could have been distributed to the needy long ago,” another resident, who humbly requested anonymity, said. When approached for comment at the time, Nghipangwa said he was not aware that there was food in his cuca shop since he had not visited the establishment for a while.
“I thought we distributed everything. I did not know there were still some people who did not get their share. But I remember there were some maize meal bags that didn’t get the right owners, but I never got the details afterwards if they were finally distributed or not. Therefore, I know nothing about the remaining food. I was even shocked when the councillor asked if I had drought relief food in the bar, because I had no idea,” claimed Nghipangwa.