By Megameno Shikwambi
The infighting within the divided Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) has gotten uglier as the bishop has moved in to terminate the membership of one of his fierce critics.
Leyden !Naibab was given marching orders following an array of accusations leveled against him, much to the disgruntlement of a number of pastors and former pastors who have criticized the Bishop for violating the ELCRN constitution.
Central to the internal wrangles is a disputed election in which a faction disagreed with the candidature of Deputy Bishop Kisting who wants to be the church’s next leader.
The faction has in the meantime said that !Naibab is being victimized for being part of the team that dragged the bishop and the church to court in an attempt to stop the elections.
!Naibab has said the leadership wants to get rid of him so that he does not make it to the synod which will talk about the current election issue and try to map the way forward.
“You can recall that we took the church to the high court regarding the elections and the case was thrown out because we did not have locus standi. I am one of the ring leaders.
But there were so many irregularities.
So basically what they are trying to do now is to try to eliminate me from the process for me not to partake in the synod.
So when you are no longer part of the system your membership becomes null and void, you can’t attend the church synod,” he said.
He said the principles of natural justice dictate that if one is accused, he or she has to be given a chance to defend the self.
“They must come with evidence and witnesses if there are any witnesses, and one must be given a chance to cross-examine the witnesses.
Very interestingly in this case I was not even charged. There was no disciplinary hearing for me to prove my innocence. So I don’t understand. So one can conclude that it is just victimization,” he said.
According to Abner Xoagub, who is a member and spokesperson of the faction that took the church to court, !Naibab has been effectively ex-communicated.
However, ex-pastor Chriss Gurirab, another faction member argued that ex-communication can only be done in the event that a church member has preached a false teaching, otherwise known as heresy.
Also commenting further on the sudden development, Xoagub said the termination of the membership of !Naibab was only a smaller issue in a bigger problem.
“We have a bigger problem where the church council is trying to nullify the whole election.
The whole council was saying that the election was free and fair and then they were saying that the election commission did a good job.
Now last minute they come in and submit a motion to be discussed at the senate so that the election can be nullified.
They submitted a vote of no confidence in the commission. How do you put in a vote of no confidence in your own extension, a commission that you put in place and went even to the high court to defend now last minute you say no.
That is our problem. The argument is that he instigated people not to go and vote. So it doesn’t make sense.
What is my crime that I have committed? You instigated people not to vote.
Now you have a vote of no confidence in the election! But at the same time you are ex-communicating somebody out of the church.
These guys are crazy, that’s why I said we have a big problem. (Deputy Bishop Kisting) wants to nullify the election because he knows that he has lost!” he said.
The Patriot gleaned on the letter of termination dated July the 17th 2019.
!Naibab is accused of failing to take the advice within the structures of ELCRN seriously and violating the church’s constitution.
He stands accused of disregarding the church’s structure and thus failing to uphold the constitution.
He also faces a charge of instigating the church membership to boycott “the legitimate Bishop’s nomination and election processes”.
“That you at an undisclosed meeting collectively instigated the membership not to make financial contributions to the church, as well as that the parishes must stop to meet their obligation of 40% contribution to ELCRN,” reads the letter.
Another charge is that of displaying threatening behavior towards the church leadership “in your WhatsApp and Facebook messages”.
The bishop’s mobile phone could not be reached for a comment until the time of going to print.