Tribalism Rears Ugly Head

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Rundu

Tribal tensions are slowly mounting in Caprivi as the region struggles to resolve a dispute over the election of a new governor.

At a Swapo Party regional executive meeting held on Wednesday to try and resolve the issue, members of the Masubiya tribe at the meeting allegedly chanted anti-Mafwe slogans.

Close to 60 people from the Masubiya tribe turned up at the Swapo Party regional office where the executive meeting was taking place and started shouting: “Down Mafwe down, down RDP down, Mafwe you are RDP”.

A regional councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity said the uninvited Masubiya people arrived at the Swapo Party regional office at 13h00 – an hour before the executive meeting was due to start.

The crowd allegedly also entered the room where the meeting was supposed to take place but was ordered to leave because the meeting was only for the executive.

The councillor said after a long debate, the group decided to leave the room but stood outside where they continued to chant slogans. The councillor claimed that some employees of the regional council transported the group to the regional office.

The councillor said the executive meeting set January 22 as the day the national leaders assigned to the region will meet the executive to try and resolve the issue, which is slowly getting out of hand.

The councillor, however, doubted if a solution would be found. He said the national leaders are trying to put pressure on the councillors to reverse a decision to appoint Leonard Mwilima as the new governor.

The councillor added that the national leaders have, however, failed to explain to them why they cannot elect Mwilima and why they should retain the former governor, Bernard Sibalatani.

The councillor said the national leaders should reverse the decision themselves, as the councillors’ decision to elect Mwilima was lawful.

“The Regional Council Act of 1992 makes provision for regional councillors to elect a chairperson of the Regional Committee, who shall be the governor of the regional council for a period of three years.”

The councillor, however, claimed that the newly formed party, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), has a hand in the ongoing tensions in Caprivi.
It is believed that the RDP has taken advantage of the cold relationship between the Mafwe people and the Swapo Party and could convince them to join the new party en masse.

There are fears within the Swapo Party that the Caprivi Region could become the first region to be lost to the RDP. With the Mafwe people being the majority in the Caprivi and the bulk of the electorate in four constituencies out of six in this region, the Swapo Party will need an urgent solution to the ongoing dispute if it is to retain its control of the region after 2009, say insiders.

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