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
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
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
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
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