News and Information

New Chief for Khwe Community?
January 12, 2005
By Wezi Tjaronda
THE Khwe Community of Western Caprivi have elected a new chief to succeed the late Chief Kippi George, who died in exile at Dukwe refugee camp in December 2001.
The election of the new Chief, Ben Gombara, was held on November 20, 2004. While this is the case, senior traditional councillor Teddeus Chedau, who acted in the position of the chief from the time the late George went to Botswana, has said the election was done without his knowledge.
Chedau consulted the Legal Assistance Centre last year to find out the reasons why the Khwe Traditional Authority was not recognised. The Khwe resort under the Mbukushu Traditional Authority.
LAC director Norman Tjombe told New Era yesterday he received a fax informing the LAC about the new developments in Western Caprivi. He said fresh elections were held to choose a new chief, which neither the acting chief Chedau nor the LAC was aware of.
The fax, signed by secretary of the Khwe Traditional Authority Mangonga Bernard notified the director of LAC about the new chief and said that the election was conducted in a good manner, with no harassment. This also came as news to the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA), which works with the San people throughout the country.
Axel Thoma, WIMSA coordinator was surprised to hear that Ben Gombara, who had been disputed by the same community earlier on because he had allegedly misappropriated some funds, could be the newly elected chief.
Thoma said WIMSA has offered to facilitate the election of a new chief by providing transport for the authority to get members to vote.
“I think this is a self appointment,” said Thoma, adding that WIMSA has written to the new chief to ask about the election procedures. The coordinator said WIMSA and LAC had a paralegal person who could have written to the organisations about any impending elections for a new chief in the area.
The LAC was in the process of having consultations with the Council of Traditional Authorities on the lack of recognition of the Khwe Traditional Authority.
Tjombe said the council constituted a committee, which was chaired by Ondonga Chief King Kauluma Eliphas. He said when the committee went to investigate the matter, the meetings with the Mbukushu and the Khwe did not yield results because the meetings were either poorly attended or people just did not turn up.
The LAC has since asked the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing for information on whether the council had made its decision or not.
However, the ministry could not furnish New Era with information because the official charged with traditional matters was not in the office. Last year, Chedau said the newly elected chief was plotting to oust him from the chair. He said nine people were behind the move since August last year. He claimed that the newly elected Chief Gombara had a grudge against him.
“The community of Western Caprivi met at Mutc’iku after the late Kippi George went into exile and decided to elect Chedau to act on his behalf, although Chedau was not from a royal house.”
A note on the historical leadership of the Khwe tribes say that while the late George was at Dukwe, the community appointed Chedau as acting chief outside the L’uroco Khwe tribe and royal house. His election was endorsed by traditional councillors of Omega 1, 2 and 3, Mutc’iku and Mushambo.
According to Chedau, the Khwe opened a case against government in 1997 over the non-recognition of its chief and the matter was revisited again in 2003.
The Khwe maintain that the Mbukushu cannot have jurisdiction over them because their cultures, traditions and languages are completely different.
Decades ago, the relationship between the Mbukushu and Khwe was that of master and slave and while Mbukushu are carvers, the Khwe are hunters.
“We could hunt a duiker and exchange it for tobacco from the Mbukushu,” he said.


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