KING Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo of the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) on Saturday faced his first serious challenge since ascending to the throne earlier this year, when residents of the Oshuushe district of Ondonga rejected his appointee, Ismael Shailemo.
Shailemo, who is a local businessman and head of the Mangetti Farmers Association, was appointed to head a yet-to-be-established committee to deal with the prevalent illegal allocation land in the district.
Traditional Councillor and OTA spokesperson Kashona kaMalulu was King Nangolo’s emissary, sent to present Shailemo to the community.
However, the meeting with the villagers ended in disarray, disrupted by a protest against Shailemo’s appointment.
Villagers started airing their discontent after kaMalulu alleged that some village headmen in the area were allocating land without following proper procedures.
He said that those same headmen were oppressing the poor and orphans by reducing the size of their land.
KaMalulu informed the community gathering that the district’s leader, elderly Meekulu Secilia Namene, was no longer able to execute her responsibilities due to her advanced age.
He said king Nangolo appointed Shailemo to assist her in managing the affairs of the district and lead it into the right direction.
The gathering was caught by surprise when two men emerged, silently, from the gathering holding the placards bearing a message: “We, the Oshuushe community, do not want to be led by Ismael yaShailemo while our leaders are still alive”.
This was followed by a short-lived walk out of the meeting by a group of some villagers singing protest songs.
The protesters returned to the meeting a moment later and the tense gathering continued.
One of the protesters asked: “Don’t we have the right to elect a leader of our choice?”
Kashona kaMalulu explained that, under the customary law of Ondonga, the appointment of senior traditional leaders is an absolute prerogative of the reigning monarch.
Eventually the two factions agreed to refer the matter back to King Nangolo for reconsideration.
Speaking to Informante after the event, kaMalulu said that the villagers were deliberately misinformed by people with hidden agendas.
“They were told that Shailemo was being appointed as their new senior headman, but that is not true. He is merely tasked to head a committee of about eight people to assist the elderly district leader,” he said, adding that the issue was politicized because some of the protesters were referring to Shailemo as “a puppet”.
Shailemo is a Swapo veteran who years ago abandoned the ruling party to join the RDP, but has since rejoined Swapo.