By Reagan Malumo
The Caprivi Regional Governor, Bernard Sibalatani, missed out on re-election as chairperson of the Regional Council Management Committee and Governor of the Caprivi Region, despite a directive from the Swapo Party headquarters in Windhoek that all Swapo regional governors retain their positions until the next election in 2010.
Regional Council Act No. 22 of 1992 makes a provision for regional councillors to elect a chairperson of the Regional Council Management Committee, who in this case shall be the Governor of the Regional Council, to hold the position for a period of three years.
According to Swapo Regional Coordinator for the Caprivi Region, Ignatius Nkunga, a Swapo meeting was convened early last Friday before the swea-ring-in of the governor to present the directive to all councillors.
The directive stated that all Swapo Party governors in all the 13 regions of the country must retain their positions. This meant that Sibalatani would retain governorship.
All the councillors at the meeting agreed to adhere to the directive. After the meeting, however, they went to the regional council chambers to witness the swearing-in of a new governor by magistrate, Rachel Sakala, of the Katima Mulilo Magistrates’ Court.
According to Nkunga, when nominations were opened to choose a suitable candidate for the position, instead of following the instructions from Swapo, one councillor picked the Councillor for the Katima Rural Constituency and member of the National Council, Leonard Mwilima.
Though Sibalatani was also nominated, he was not seconded. This therefore made Mwilima the overall winner, with three votes. Mwilima was then sworn-in as the new governor and was to assume duty with imme-diate effect.
Nkunga said since all the six councillors from the six constituencies of the Caprivi Region are from the Swapo Party, he expected them to adhere to the party’s directive to retain Sibalatani as governor.
Nkunga also confirmed reports that after the swearing-in ceremony, some people started calling the Swapo headquarters in Windhoek to complain about what happened at the proceedings. Swapo asked Nkunga to submit a report concerning the whole process. He said he has submitted the report and is waiting for feedback and further directions.
When contacted, Sibalatani declined to comment and said the only people who would be able to give the right information are the newly elected governor and the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Pandeni.
Mwilima also declined to comment and referred all questions to the Chief Regional Officer, Raymond Matiti, who in turn indicated that he would only be in a position to comment on the matter tomorrow as he was still waiting for directives from Windhoek.
Until yesterday, council staff was still uncertain as to whether Mwilima is indeed the new Chairperson of the Management Council Committee and Governor of the region.
“We don’t know yet because Swapo has to decide,” said one employee who preferred to remain anonymous.