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In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has settled the long-standing dispute within the vaShambyu traditional community regarding the succession of their Hompa.

The court upheld the designation of Sofia Mundjembwe Kanyetu as the Hompa and brought an end to the avenues for an amicable resolution that had been exhausted.

The case, which centred around the designation process and the customary law applicable to the community, has finally reached a conclusion, bringing an end to years of uncertainty.

The legal battle revolved around two contenders for the position of Hompa: Kanyetu and Maria Ukamba Haindaka.

The dispute arose following the death of Hompa Angelina Matumbo Ribebe, who had not explicitly designated a successor.

As per vaShambyu customary law, there were two methods of succession in such cases: one where the Hompa made a declaration during her lifetime and the other where no declaration was made.

Haindaka, supported by the Mukwahepo lineage of the royal family, claimed that the Hompa should be solely chosen by the royal family.

However, Edward Mutero Sikerete, Secretary to the Hompa's Council, argued that the traditional council, comprising trusted members beyond the royal family, should have a say in the selection process.

After careful examination of the evidence and arguments presented by both parties, the Supreme Court determined that Kanyetu had met the requirements for designation under customary law and that her appointment as Hompa was carried out in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Act.

The court found that the Hompa's Council had fulfilled its obligations to ensure compliance with both customary law and the Act.

The judgement highlighted the significance of the Hompa's Council in the designation process, emphasising that it plays an essential role not only in the administration of the traditional authority but also in the selection and approval of a Hompa.

The court emphasised the importance of adhering to both customary law and statutory requirements when designating a Hompa.

Throughout the legal proceedings, the vaShambyu community had been divided on the issue.

While Kanyetu had garnered support from the Shambyu Traditional Authority, the Hompa's Council, and the community at large, Haindaka's application did not receive the same level of endorsement.

With this ruling, the Supreme Court has effectively settled the succession dispute within the vaShambyu community.

The decision upholds the designation of Kanyetu as the Hompa.

The ruling is expected to have a profound impact not only within the vaShambyu community but also in shaping future disputes and designations of hompas in traditional communities across the country.

The case serves as a precedent, highlighting the necessity of respecting local customs while ensuring compliance with relevant legislation.

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Daniel Nadunya/ July Nafuka