OMATJETE: Division and tension are once again rocking the OvaHerero community, with two clans fighting for the chieftaincy of the Zeraua Royal House following the death of Chief Christian Eerike Zeraua earlier this year.
Matters have gotten so bad that the two clans – one lead by the late Zeraua’s son Manasse Zeraua and the other by Raphael Hiangungo Kapia of the Ovakweyuva Notjipepa clan – each held separate coronations for their chosen leaders at different venues over the weekend as both men claim they are rightful heirs to the throne.
Zeraua’s coronation took place at the Zeraua Royal House at Okaumbaha village in the Daures Constituency on Friday, while the Kapia coronation took place at Kapia House in Omatjete on Saturday.
The late Christian Zeraua took over the chieftaincy from his uncle, Chief Kapia, following Kapia’s death in 1979. Kapia is also Raphael Kapia’s father, hence that clan’s argument that he should now take over as chief.
The other clan however feels that the late Zeraua’s son, Manasse, should take over as chief. Their view was also endorsed last month when Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Jerry Ekandjo in a letter announced that Government recognises Zeraua as the heir to his father’s throne.
The official coronation of Zeraua was then set for October this year, but the clan shifted the event to Friday.
“We have done everything procedurally in accordance with the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000, Act 25 on the designation of a chief,” Fabianus Uaseuapani, spokesperson of the Zeraua Royal House, told Nampa in an interview on Saturday.
The Act provides for the establishment of traditional authorities and the designation, election, appointment and recognition of traditional leaders. It requires a royal house to determine the date, time and place for the official designation of a chief and requires that prior notification of the arrangement be given to the minister.
In the cultural provision, the first-born of the late chief automatically becomes the heir of the chieftaincy, and Manasse is the first-born of the late Zeraua, making him the rightful heir, Uaseuapani stated.
“That is what we did, and it is in accordance with the law,” he added.
Erongo Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua witnessed the coronation on behalf of the government, while Vita Royal House Chief Tjimbware Tom blessed the coronation as per OvaHerero tradition.
In Omatjete on Saturday, hundreds of people braved the heat to witness what they said was the “authentic” succession and coronation event – that of Kapia.
The event was attended by, amongst others, OvaHerero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako, Rheihardine Guriras of the Damara Traditional Authority, and representatives of Paramount Chief of the OvaMbanderu Traditional Authority Aletta Nguvauva.
Speaking at the event, master of ceremonies Verikende Rukoro told the gathering that the late Chief Zeraua left behind a note written in 2009 in which he outlined the succession policy for his chieftaincy.
In the letter, the late chief made it clear that the Ovakweyuva Notjipepa clan should nominate the next chief, just as he was nominated in 1979.
Chief Zeraua took over from Chief Kapia of the Ovakweyuva Notjipepa clan, so the throne should come back to that clan, Rukoro stated.
He explained that they have sent several letters containing their nomination of Kapia for endorsement for the position to Ekandjo, but said their nomination was refused.
Efforts to get comment from the ministry proved futile.