Mashare Councillor faces defamation lawsuit

15 Apr 2014 16:00pm
MUPAPAMA, 15 APR (NAMPA) – The Secretary of the Farms and Lands Committee in the Kavango East Region’s Shambyu Traditional Authority, is threatening to sue the Councillor for the Mashare Constituency for defamation of character.
Kaghuyu Shikerete has been at loggerheads with the Swapo Party’s Mashare Constituency Councillor Bonny Wakudumo after Shikerete allegedly erected an illegal fence at Mupapama village, situated some 50 kilometres east of Rundu.
The relationship between the two political heavyweights in the region started going sour after the Mashare Councillor apparently reported Shikerete’s alleged illegal fencing to some officials of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement for investigation, following complaints from villagers over that fence.
The Shambyu Farms and Lands Committee Secretary told this reporter this week that he will sue the Mashare Councillor, as he has been tarnishing his name and reputation over the alleged illegal fencing.
He said he has done nothing wrong, as the land in question was previously owned by his late father Edward Shikerete.
Shikerete, who is a member of the All Peoples’ Party (APP), said Wakudumo is jealous over the new developments which he has been bringing to the area because he had failed to bring such development, especially water supply, since becoming a councillor over eight years ago.
“Wakudumo is trying to score cheap political points. He must concentrate on providing developments and services to the electorate instead of wasting his time on petty issues which have no basis,” charged Shikerete.
He said Wakudumo has failed to bring development to the area of Mupapama since he became a Councillor and now feels inferior that he (Shikerete) had partnered with his own investors and drilled a borehole which will also supply the villagers with water for free.
When Nampa approached Wakudumo for his side of the story on Tuesday, the Mashare Constituency Councillor said he is ready for the lawsuit as he has done nothing wrong.
He explained that he only got involved in the fencing issue after he was approached by villagers to intervene in the matter as an elected Councillor.
The Mashare Councillor said he had unsuccessfully invited Shikerete to attend community meetings to resolve the issue amicably but the latter has repeatedly declined to attend such meetings.
According to the councillor, Shikerete’s claim that the fenced off land belonged to his father could be untrue, because the villagers are claiming that Shikerete’s father only owned 20 per cent of the entire fenced off land.
“I intervened based on the villagers’ complaint, and I also know my legal rights. He must go ahead and sue. We will meet there,” said Wakudumo.
He also accused Shikerete of fencing off the area illegally without the knowledge and expressed consent from the Shambyu Traditional Authority.
Meanwhile, Shikerete said fencing off the area in question, which covers a total area of 31 hectares, was completed four months ago and that he will continue to develop that area.
A few weeks ago, three officials from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement in the Kavango East Region were allegedly denied access to that same land by Shikerete.
The three officials were supposed to investigate the matter, but were allegedly prevented from doing so by Shikerete.
Villagers of Mupapama and surrounding areas have been complaining to their village headmen and Mashare Constituency Councillor about the alleged fencing off of the area, which is mainly used for the grazing of their livestock.
Following complaints from the villagers, the three officials - the ministry’s Deputy Director for the north-eastern regions Apollinaris Kannyinga and development planners Fernando Marungu and Susan Nchindo - travelled to the land in question to map out the area which was allegedly fenced off illegally, apparently only to be turned away by Shikerete.
In a heated verbal altercation, Shikerete apparently made it clear to the Lands and Resettlement Ministry officials that they will not gain access to the area and he warned them to enter at own risk.
The officials instead opted to do their measurements outside the erected fence.
Kannyinga confirmed being denied entry by Shikerete, saying the officials just wanted to determine the size of the land which was fenced off, following complaints by community members at a recent meeting.
The matter has now been forwarded to the Kavango Communal Land Board.
Shikerete is unhappy about the fact that despite the many cases of illegal fencing being reported on a daily basis to the Ministry of Lands, the officials allegedly failed to investigate such cases and “only chose” to investigate his area, something he felt was not fair.
He admitted refusing the Lands Ministry officials entry, as he questioned their motives. He said the government officials ignored more than six other illegal fencing incidents in the Shambyu area and only targeted his area.
The Shambyu Farm and Lands Committee secretary earlier stated that he did not grab land, adding that the area which he fenced off was previously owned by his father Edward Shikerete, who occupied it since 1950.
He said he entered into a partnership with a private investor to develop the area into campsites, which according to him will create employment opportunities for local people.
A borehole has also already been drilled in the area, which will provide water for free to the locals – who according to him have not had access to a proper water supply since Independence in 1990.