PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has expressed concern over instances of factionalism and ongoing leadership succession disputes between communities and their leaders, stating that these issues may lead to tribal divisions within the nation.
Officiating the opening of the 22nd annual meeting of the Council of Traditional Leaders; Geingob stated that constant applications are being received for the recognition of new traditional authorities, communities and leaders – a situation which, if accommodated, may not only become financially unsustainable but may also lead to further tribal divisions within the Namibian House.
“We cannot have a situation where people suddenly want to establish distinct traditional communities and chieftainship, premised on personal motives, preference and ambitions, while all these years they have peacefully resorted under one traditional leader, sharing the same customs, values, language and culture without any problem. Where there are legitimate cases for recognition, facts should be established beyond doubt, based on thorough investigation,“ Geingob said.
He further called on all citizens, especially elders and traditional leaders, to uphold traditional norms and customs, and avoid fueling and planting seeds of division and dissent.
“You are the torch bearers of our cultural norms and traditions, which have as their goal, the advancement of peace, unity and the welfare of the community. I have always pointed out, however, that we can disagree without being disagreeable. Compelled by a conviction that, “people go to war, when dialogue fails”, I continue to advocate for inclusivity and dialogue whenever confronted by circumstances that foster uncertainty,“ Geingob said.
Pursuant to sections within the Council of Traditional Leaders, the Council has an important responsibility of advising the President on the control and utilisation of communal land in the country.
Geingob stated that this is a critical role given the centrality of the land question to the sustenance of our hard-won peace, stability and social harmony.
“The Council of Traditional Leaders has since its inception served as an important symbol and source of unity in diversity. As traditional leaders, you have helped to shape the structure and foundation of our society. Through you, we are reminded that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become tomorrow. You are therefore vital in underpinning our national identity,“ Geingob said.
He further stressed that as leaders and citizens, traditional leaders must play an active role in the implementation of the Recommendations of the 2nd National Land Conference by working together with the Commission of Inquiry on the Ancestral Land Question.
Touching on the drought, which has affected vast numbers of communities throughout the country, Geingob stated that his just concluded Town Hall meetings, across all 14 regions, have given him an opportunity not only to assess the extent of impact the drought situation is having on communities, but also to converse with Namibians from across the country, young and old, to gain a clearer understanding of their wellbeing.
“I have concluded that fellow countrymen and women are in dire need of material assistance to overcome the current drought and economic downturn. In the spirit of our united Namibian House, we all, therefore, need to stand in solidarity with fellow citizens, by sharing our resources with them where possible and complement Government’s efforts,” Geingob said.
He further welcomed the contribution of the traditional authorities and leaders in whatever way, towards this noble course.
The president further observed a minute of silence in remembrance of traditional leaders who have departed during the past several months, among them Omukwaniilwa Immanuel Kauluma Elifas and Chief Seth Kootjie.
“The absence of these pillars of our society and cultural heritage is dearly missed, but their impactful contributions to the vision of ‘One Namibia One Nation’ will continue to reverberate in all corners of our Namibian House,” Geingob concluded.