Partisan politics divisive – Katjiua

Partisan politics divisive – Katjiua

Zebaldt Ngaruka

Academic Mutjinde Katjiua, one of the two Ovaherero paramount chief claimants, has distanced his office from mainstream partisan politics.

He, however, hastened to say in the future, the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) will have to study each political party’s manifesto, and rally their support behind that which best represents the wishes and aspirations of the Ovaherero people. 

Katjiua’s response comes after questions were raised about his political affiliation as head of one of the OTA factions.

He told the New Era in the interview that ever since the establishment of the top leadership portfolio of the Ovaherero community in 1863, the Ovaherero Traditional Authority has taken care of the political, social, and cultural interests of the Ovaherero people.

“The head of governance served both as commander-in-chief and paramount chief of the community,” Katjiua said.

He added that Maharero kaTjamuaha, who was the first paramount chief, liberated Ovaherero from the Nama domination in 1865.

The second paramount chief, Samuel Maharero, mobilised the Ovherero against the German genocidal occupation, while Hosea Kutako petitioned the United Nations for Namibia’s independence and was instrumental in the formation of the country’s first party, Swanu, in 1959 and the National Unity Democratic Organisation in 1964.

“Kutako himself never assumed any political position, although he supported the liberation agenda of the Swanu, Swapo, and Nudo parties. These parties may have differed in some respects, but they had a common overarching interest in freeing Namibia from colonial bondage and apartheid, and therein lies Kutako’s interests,” said Katjiua.

Katjiua further added that given the above-mentioned history and present-day divergent political agenda and interests amongst political parties in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, where most of the Ovaherero reside, and in which Ovaherero are part of these parties.

“The office of ombara otjitambi cannot be partisan in its orientation. Partisan politics is divisive, and therefore, I cannot actively partake in party politics,” he emphasised.

Katjiua continued that being non-partisan does not mean that his office is apolitical.

“To the contrary, matters of economic development, social upliftment, and environmental safeguard cannot be divorced from politics. The questions of genocide and reparation, ancestral land dispossession and restitution, natural resource benefit sharing, environmental pollution, and public health, to mention but a few, are all matters of politics,” elaborated Katjiua.

He opined that the current state of political development in Southern Africa suffices to allow the Ovaherero people to vote where they think their interests are best addressed.

“But in the future, the chiefs council ought to carry out an evaluation of political parties’ manifestos and direct its membership to vote where our interests as a nation would be best met,” he said.

Then they rubbished the assertion about the possible involvement of the chief’s council in active party politics as daylight dreaming and devoid of any truth.

Already, in the build-up to what is expected to be another Nudo watershed intraparty congress, several events have raised the curtain for the main event.

Chief among them was the withdrawal from the crowded presidential race by party secretary general Joseph Kauandenge.

The OTA has been caught in the internal Nudo storm.

It would appear that those gunning for the position’s success depend largely on which OTA faction they support or align with.

Withdrawing his candidature, Kauandenge equated the party to a ship on the verge of sinking if it does not rid itself of a “cancer” tearing it asunder.

The cancer he was figuratively referring to is the OTA and its two factions.

The two OTA factions are each led by academics Katjiua and Hoze Riruako.

The two groups do not see eye-to-eye and are at opposite ends on key Ovaherero issues.