Patron of the Ovaherero Red Flag Association Ben Zaaruka has described the weekend’s Ovaherero Chiefs Council meeting held at Onderombapa in the Aminuis constituency as illegal, null and void while warning those who convened the gathering not to “pee on their tradition”.
The Aminuis meeting saw academic Mutjinde Katjiua being chosen as the next Ovaherero paramount chief-designate.
Katjiua, who is the current Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) secretary general and the chairperson of the newly-formed transitional committee, is set to replace the late Vekuii Rukoro who passed away earlier this year. If approved by the senate, the Ovaherero’s highest decision making body, Katjiua will become the seventh Ovaherero paramount chief.
The meeting, according to an unsigned statement shared by Katjiua on the OTA Media WhatsApp group, also resolved to appoint chief Boas Tjingaete as acting paramount chief, replacing chief Vipuira Kapuuo, who boycotted the meeting and called it illegal.
Kapuuo acted in that position by virtue of him having been the chiefs council’s chairperson at the time of Rukoro’s passing.
“Where in our tradition history have you seen a secretary setting up a transitional committee? Where have you seen a deputy chairperson calling a chiefs council meeting while the chairperson himself is alive and well? This is a mockery of our tradition, let us not pee on our tradition,” said Zaaruka, the northern business tycoon who was appointed to the patron position by the late Rukoro.
He said such a meeting should have been called by Kapuuo, the chiefs council’s chairperson and the OTA acting paramount chief.
“The meeting should have had 270 chiefs council members, 100 Red Flag delegates. In fact, the whole meeting was a sham. A mockery of our tradition,” he said.
Zaaruka added, as it stands, they are waiting for a chiefs council’s meeting to be called by Kapuuo, who he said is the legitimate person to organise such a gathering.
“In fact, delegates attending the chiefs council meeting should be given 21-days notice, which was not the case in the Onderombapa meeting. People who called it did not have the legal standing as per the traditional norms,” he added.
According to the statement shared by Katjiua, the weekend’s meeting was attended by 126 delegates from 30 chapters as far as Kunene, Botswana and South Africa.
“The chiefs council expressed its heartfelt gratitude to the transitional committee, which gallantly held our people together and provided critical leadership at a very difficult time for our people,” read the statement.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Katjiua did not respond to a WhatsApp message sent to him. The new acting paramount chief Tjingaete’s phone also went unanswered.
Most commentators New Era tried to speak to were yesterday reluctant to comment on the matter with many saying it was too early.
Meanwhile, Kapuuo, through his lawyers, PD Theron and Associates, threatened last week to approach the High Court to interdict any person who seeks to execute any decision taken at the weekend’s “irregular chiefs council meeting”.
“I am already in the process of scheduling a properly constituted council meeting for early 2022, and measures are already underway to ensure that the prerequisites are met,” said Kapuuo in a letter through his lawyers.
Meanwhile, a meeting held by the Ovaherero Red Flag Association in Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa region last weekend resolved that Kapuuo remains the acting paramount chief of the community.
The high-profile meeting, attended by 10 of its 15 members, also resolved to replace the late General Field Marshall of the Red Flag Association Ismael Kamuhapita with Ongejama Kujendani.
Veteran journalist and Ovaherero traditionalist Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro last week explained that the succession of the Ovaherero paramount chief is not hereditary, but a process done through election.
“It means if there is more than one candidate, they are elected. Candidates are nominated widely, especially by the constituent communities,” he said.
“There have been instances when the successor has been anointed by the incumbent by confiding in confidantes within the traditional structures. But it is not automatic that the anointed becomes the successor, but he may have to compete with other nominees. The whole process from nomination to the election and/or affirmation of the anointed is usually presided over by the chairperson of the chiefs council, who is the de facto acting paramount chief.”