Ovaherero chiefs in Nudo ‘game of thrones’

Joseph Kauandenge

National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) secretary general Joseph Kauandenge has accused the two splinter groups of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) of fuelling division in his party.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Kaundenge cited interference by “toxic” traditional authority factions as his reason for opting out of the party’s presidential race.

He said the connection between the two factions of the OTA is a “delicate balance”.

“The OTAs are so intertwined with Nudo. You cannot divorce the one from the other, because of the history it is coming from,” Kauandenge said.

He said Nudo was practically started by Ovaherero chiefs, adding that they and their supporters often claim their right within the party.

He said many Ovaherero feel inclined to have a say in the affairs of Nudo.

“There should perhaps be an amendment to the (Nudo) constitution to define the roles of the (Ovaherero) chief, to say you’ll start from here up to here, but from this point, please leave things to the elected leadership,” Kauandenge said.

The two OTA factions are each led by academics, namely Mutjinde Katjiua and Hoze Riruako.

Hoze Riruako

He said the OTA factionalism has infested the internal political atmosphere within Nudo.

He said the current prevailing situation is in total conflict with his principles as a nationalist, whose only preoccupation is and has been to have capable, tested and people-centred individuals lead Nudo.

Kauandenge predicts that should Nudo fail to change course, the party is going to have the same problems, where the internal situation would become so toxic that even if the best brain is brought in to run the party, the leadership will fail.

Kauandenge said his decision to withdraw was not made because he felt intimidated by the other presidential hopefuls, who include former Namibia Football Association secretary general Barry Rukoro, Nudo vice president Peter Kazongomuinja, City of Windhoek deputy mayor Joseph Uapingene and former Okakarara constituency councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu.

He said he withdrew his candidacy because he wants to rid Nudo of the division. “Let me be that sacrificial lamb. Let me withdraw for the interest of the party, but not because I am fearing anyone. I am the hurricane of Nudo, I am a force of nature within Nudo,” Kauandenge said.

He said he will, however, remain a loyal ordinary Nudo member and serve as a member of parliament until March 2025.

Ovaherero Traditional Authority chief Mutjinde Katjiua

“In parting, I urge my party, and especially the members, that perhaps its high time that we leave traditional affairs and squabbles where they belong, and that is in the corridors of the OTA. Then move back to Nudo, fully awake, to elect leaders, not based on their affiliation to this or that OTA, but purely based on what they can offer Nudo, to make it a formidable brand among all Namibians,” Kauandenge said.

Katjiua, the paramount chief of one faction of the OTA, denies any influence in political parties.

Riruako has not responded to queries sent to him at the time of going to print. Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah says in all his years in Nudo, Kauandenge has never brought up issues of OTA interference in Nudo.

“Now that he is cornered with the support that he will not get if he runs for the president of the party, he is now bringing these issues up,” Kamwanyah says.

Kamwanyah says it is important that politicians are guided by principles and that they not only bring up issues that are eating away within their parties when their support is dwindling.

“However, he is right that traditional authorities have no right to dictate and interfere in party political issues. They have traditional matters to deal with,” Kamwanyah says.

He says Nudo’s years of driving itself along cultural lines have now come back to haunt the party.

“That has been Nudo’s problem and conduct. That does not speak to the unitary posture of the Namibian republic,” Kamwanyah says.

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