Shambyu succession war plays out in court

The battle of who should rise to the vacant throne of the Shambyu Traditional Authority played out in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Angula yesterday as one of the contenders accused Urban and Rural Development minister, Peya Mushelenga, of being out of order in calling for elections.

The leadership wrangle has this time tipped two royal families against each other and these are non but the Mukwahepo and the Mwengere clans. 

Aspirant to the chieftaincy position, Maria Ukamba Haindaka, through her lawyers, is seeking to place an application before the court to have the election, scheduled for the 18th of August 2018, set aside.

Haindaka hails from the Mukwahepo matrilineal clan which for the past 75 years has not been to the throne and now wants a chance but the rival family has “illegally” chosen their own number, Sophia Mundjembwe Kanyetu.

Her grounds are that as per the Traditional Authority Act, the minister, although he has the power to, but he can not call for an election while disregarding the customary laws of the Shambyu.

Such laws call for a council of elders to identify a potential successor and have him/her prepared for leadership, in the event that the siting chief has died without issuing a will.

If two candidates are chosen, the Shambyu people will have to, by show of hands, nominate their choice and the case gets closed and all this is as per the law, which Mushelenga in his call for elections, is said to have not given a thought on.

 The nomination process happens within a time frame of three months, which is mourning period for th late chief.

His decision has been trashed as wrong while Haindaka’s lawyers submitted that it also contradicted the one former minister Sophia Shaningwa had given after investigations into the wrangle were finished.  

“His decision is unreasonable,” said lawyer Eliaser Nekwaya adding that both disputing parties are aware of the customary law. 

They also slammed him for involving the Electoral Commission of Namibia and things like the voters’ roll before claiming that if the election is allowed to continue there will be high possibilities of fraud in the process. 

Nekwaya also said such elections will be impossible to undo. 

Yet Judge Angula put it to the lawyer that without putting in the ministers’ names, what was apparent was that the same office had issued two contradictory orders.

He also put it to him that there are instances when even regional elections had to be overturned long after they would have been carried out, challenging his assertion that the applicant would not be able to reverse the election if it proceeds. 

In his attempts to have the application to stop the election thrown off the window, lawyer representing the minister, Tinashe Chibwada said the applicant’s arguments were weak.

He said the minister merely exercised his wide discretion in calling for elections.

He posited that complaints about the ballot paper and voters’ roll were ready to be entertained by the minister from all parties but the applicant had rushed to have these heard in court.

“The applicant came to court knowing the minister was ready to hear their complaints,” he said. 

Sisa Namandje who is representing the Traditional Authority said he agreed with Chibwada and cautioned the court against, “Impeding statutory duties being carried out by the administrative officer”. 

Speaking to The Villager at the sideline of the court session, chairperson of the Shambyu Community Court and spokesperson for the Mukwahepo house, Raphael Sinkumba said all Haindaka wants is to follow the legal traditional route.