Tribal Tension Escalates in Caprivi

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By Reagan Malumo

KATIMA MULILO

Tribal tension heightens in the Caprivi Region as the Mafwe and Masubia tribes feud over who shall be the regional governor after the election of a Mafwe was annulled.

Bernard Sibalatani, a Masubia was ousted as governor because his opponents feel he has not served the electorate to the best of his ability but Swapo annulled the election of Leonard Mwilima.

The ruling party had given a directive for Sibalatani to be retained but a group of Mafwe-speaking councillors rebelled and did not adhere to this directive as they shoed in the youthful Mwilima.

The region has been without a governor for several weeks now with administrative issues being presided over by Raymond Matiti.

According to party insiders, there has been tribal discord going on in the region with party members privately holding separate tribal meetings to shore up support and devise strategies for their favourite candidates.

The discord is between the Mafwe-backed Mwilima and the Masubia backed Sibalatani. Sibalatani has been the governor of the Caprivi Region since 1999 after succeeding the former DTA governor, John Mabuku, who was involved in the secessionist plot and later fled to Botswana with his mentor, Mishake Muyongo.

Sibalatani missed re-election on December 14, last year after some councillors decided to disregard a directive from Swapo that all party governors retain their positions.

Instead, Mwilima was elected and sworn in by Magistrate Rachel Sakala. The Swapo Party then nullified Mwilima’s election and instruction was given that the party regional executive arranges a date to meet Joel Kaapanda, Rafael Dinyando and Victor Simunja, as national leaders assigned to the region.

According to sources, several meetings were held last Wednesday just before the main Swapo Regional Executive meeting. Meanwhile Swapo regional coordinator, Ignitius Nkunga, denied knowledge about these meetings except one held at Swapo offices at 14h00 the same day.

Nkunga said the meeting held at Swapo offices was to bring together all members of the regional executive in order to set a date for meeting the national leaders. The date for the meeting with the national leaders was set up for January 22, but Nkunga could not state whether the election of a new governor would be conducted on the same day.

He confirmed that the agenda for that meeting would be drafted immediately after the national leaders arrive in the region.

Some party insiders think between now and the meeting with the national leaders the region will be turned into a field of cold war as both tribes intensify their campaigns to have their tribesman elected as governor.

They said that though Sibalatani seems to have more support in the regional executive, some strong individuals from the Mafwe tribe seem to be fighting to have Mwilima as governor.

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