Curse of Regional Politics: Do Caprivians Have a Death Wish?

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A friend of mine joined me at a popular hangout in Oshakati bursting with anger. I didn’t even have to ask a question before the rage exploded. “I can’t believe the Governor of Caprivi Region has been suspended for a month without remuneration over the rotten food that was stored at a warehouse at Mpacha Military Base, some 20 km from Katima Mulilo. First, it was the former Mayor of Katima Mulilo who was unceremoniously removed from his position.” When I reminded my friend that the Governor as the chairperson of REMU in the region was accountable as the political head of the Government in the region for having allowed the food to rot instead of distributing it to the needy people in the region; and, that it was the prerogative of the party that put the former mayor into power to remove him when he becomes a liability to his party, my friend: “No, no, you’re missing the point. “Your party friends and leaders always miss the point. “They’re great when they finally decide to hone in on perceived wrongs committed by fellow Namibians originating from the Caprivi region, they constantly see the big picture. “They’re myopic or simply act like tortoises when it comes to other serious cases elsewhere: why wasn’t the Accounting Officer at the Labour Ministry suspended when a parastatal under her nose messed up or why hasn’t the Accounting Officer at Trade and Industry been suspended for the missing N$100 million or why hasn’t the Accounting Officer who authorized the fruitless expenditure of N$3.2 million on bogus military weapons/hardware at Defence been suspended or taken to task?” The scenario as outlined above leads one to ask, “So what is the ‘big picture’ here?” What did the Namibians originating from the Caprivi region ignore or miss? The reality they are missing is that they never really were able to grasp an extreme interpretation of what I call “the unitary executive” theory in the sense that the Executive Branch can enforce laws it wishes whenever it wishes, totally negating the Legislative Branch’s lawmaking powers, and the Judiciary’s right to interpret what they are doing in light of the Constitution. Cabinet’s cockamamie theory underlying its assumption of total power in the Foodgate Scandal in the Caprivi is perhaps understandable. Firstly, you have a line ministry that was dragging its feet in implementing the findings of the Prime Minister. Secondly, despite all our best legal minds in the country, nobody reminded the ministry to refer the case to the Caprivi Region itself to take a resolution in terms of the Regional Councils Act of 1992 (Act No. 22 of 1992) as amended. On the other hand, should it transpire that the council took a resolution on the matter, Cabinet’s decision to place the Governor on “forced unpaid leave” for one month will be compromised. Conversely, assuming that administrators implicated in the Foodgate Scandal in Caprivi are full-time staff members of Caprivi Regional Council, it is the council that needs to discipline them in terms of the Public Service Act, 1980 (Act No. 2 of 1980) read in conjunction with provision of the Regional Councils Act. On the other hand, staff members delegated to the Regional Council are governed by the Public Service Act of 1995 (Act No. 13 of 1995) and in such instance, a prosecuting attorney, preferably from the Attorney General’s Office, must be appointed to adduce evidence against the culprits. It is not just me. There are so many distressed Namibians originating from the Caprivi region who think likewise. Even, “Mr Kupe”, that established and well-connected party stalwart, is of a similar mind along with seasoned and loyal types, but scared to death of saying anything. Almost, but my premise centres on the paradigm that “crying wolf” when you are caught and punished is a non-starter. It is like someone speeding on a highway and when stopped, one cannot say to the traffic officer that others are speeding also…why were they not stopped! However, if the traffic officer is only stopping cars with a beige colour, then something is amiss! Let us face reality that we Namibians from Caprivi are to blame for our own prejudices. Sure…whatever, if it makes you sleep better at night “the status quo made me do it”. We make personal choices that lead to our demise. Take an example of the wannabe comrades we surround ourselves with – the johnny-come-lately – who pretend to stand firm where others wavered when in fact they are saboteurs who are simply looking out for themselves. We should form a united front and live in harmony but as leaders we should also be honest and truthful with ourselves in the region because I believe it all started from them. It is a fallacy for some to claim that they are more Swapo than others but their actions or rather ruthless incompetence speak for themselves; hence leading to their demise, socially and politically. Josephat Sinvula, MPA in Public Administration has had over 15 years experience in both the Private and Public Sectors. He is also a PhD candidate in Political Science. He is currently employed as a Deputy Director of Human Resources Management at Oshana Regional Council. The views expressed in this opinion piece are his own.