VAALGRAS - The process of replacing the late chief Joel Stephanus, who was the chief of the Vaalgras Traditional Authority since 1975, will only start next year.
Sussana Fredericks, senior councillor of the Vaalgras Traditional Authority, said the situation in the settlement is steady despite the community losing both chief Stephanus and senior traditional councillor Willem Konjore earlier this year.
“Someone from his bloodline should take the place of the chief. You have seen over the years when it comes to the replacing of chiefs that there are always fights and disagreements on who should take over. But as a traditional authority, we will ensure that this transition is smooth, and we will definitely involve the community so that everyone is on the same page and that we all agree on the person to replace the chief,” she stated.
“We have in the interim appointed senior traditional councilor Martin Biwa as chief of the Vaalgras Traditional Authority until we elect a new chief,” she explained.
“We, however, have not yet discussed the issue of electing a new traditional chief, but will determine a date for elections after our next meeting with the community that will take place early next year,” she reiterated. Three new senior traditional councillors will also be voted in after the demise of Konjore, Regina April and Willem Louw, who held those positions, respectively.
Fredericks said most people in the settlement are dependent on small and large livestock farming as their only means of income. “Apart from that it, is only those working at school hostels and others who are receiving their monthly social grants who have a guaranteed monthly income here,” she added. Women in the area also initiated a needlework project to manufacture garments like school uniforms and tracksuits as a means of sustaining themselves.
The councillor was, however, optimistic that grazing conditions for farmers have improved since the last rains. Fredericks also described the rate at which people were getting vaccinated against the coronavirus as satisfactory. “Members of our community, including the youth, are really willing to get their jabs when the health ministry’s primary healthcare team visits us once a month, which team additionally assists sick persons in the settlement,” she observed.
Vaalgras is located some 80 kilometres east of Keetmanshoop, and has an estimated population of 3 500 people.