ONGWEDIVA - A two-thirds majority could not be reached in the bishop’s election for the western dioceses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN), and the synod instead elected Gideon Niitenge as the diocesan moderator.
Niitenge is the current secretary general of the western diocese. The voting took place at the general synod convened at Ongwediva on Tuesday. Although scoring the highest points in all three rounds, Niitenge failed to meet the two-thirds majority of the votes required for the bishop position.
For this position, the winner was required to obtain at least 51 of the 76 votes in the first three rounds. According to the ELCIN constitution, once the candidates fail to obtain two-thirds of the votes in the first three rounds, the winner in the fourth round is only accorded the diocesan moderator position. The diocesan moderator is only required to obtain at least half (39) of the votes. “The bishop-elect must obtain two-thirds of the votes. If such votes are not obtained in the first three rounds of the elections, then the voters will proceed to elect a diocesan moderator. The diocesan moderator is required to get half of the votes,” the ELCIN constitution reads.
Niitenge scored 43 votes in the fourth round, followed by Alpo Enkono with 18 votes, and Eliakim Shaanika with 15 votes. The next election for a bishop will only be held again in three or four years at the next synod. At the eastern diocese, Martin Ngodji was elected to serve as bishop. Ngodji won in the second round after defeating Enkono by getting 54 of the votes. Enkono only managed to garner 21 votes, and is the current secretary general for the eastern diocese. He competed in both the western and eastern dioceses’ elections.
Matheus Tshapaka Kapolo was eliminated from the race after scoring only five votes in the first round. In the first round, Ngodji scored 47, Enkono 24 and Kapolo five.
Ngodji will replace presiding bishop Shekutamba Nambala, who has been in office since April 2014. He was happy to have won the election. “I am happy, but the task bestowed upon me is too big. With the guidance of the Lord and the people around me, all will be well,” said Ngodji. The swearing-in ceremony is expected to take place on 14 November this year at a venue yet to be announced.