February 28, 2008

Himba chief denied recognition

The fight of a female traditional chief of the nomadic Ovahimba community for official recognition from Government received a setback after permission was refused for a demonstration she had planned near State House. The Ministry of Local and Regional Government recognised a son of Katjambia Tjambiru's half-sister, Vemuii Tjambiru, "because he is a Swapo supporter", the woman leader of Etanga village in the Kaokoland alleged.
Chief Katjambia had an audience with President Hifikepunye Pohamba at State House on February 11 to inform him that her father had decreed that she should inherit his chieftaincy nearly two decades ago. At State House she was told that the matter was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Local and Regional Government. Chief Katjambia Tjambiru told The Namibian afterwards that she would sue the Ministry for robbing her of her rightful title. She further charged that Deputy Gender Equality and Child Welfare Minister Angelika Muharukua was behind the move to have the title bestowed on her nephew. At a press conference in Windhoek after her thwarted demonstration, Chief Tjambiru told reporters she would continue to fight for her right.
In another move, the Ministry of Local and Regional Government has published a full-page advertisement in a Government newspaper, describing an article on Chief Katjambia Tjambiru in The Namibian two weeks ago as "totally misleading and carrying distorted information." The Namibian had tried several times to get comment from the Ministry's officials and Minister John Pandeni himself on the matter, but to no avail. According to the advertisement, the Ministry was made aware of the dispute some four years ago and held meetings with both factions and investigated the matter. It did, however, not explain why the Council of Traditional Chiefs recommended to have Vemuii Tjambiru recognised as Chief and not his aunt, Katjambia. "The final decision of Minster John Pandeni is that Vemuii Tjambiru is the rightful Chief designated to lead the Kakurukouje Traditional Authority," the advertisement said. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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