By Staff Writer
Some political malcontents are stoking ethnic rivalries between Mafwe and the Masubia tribes who have in the past physically clashed. Both tribes now feel it is their turn to take over the reins of Regional Governor, a coveted political position.
These views were expressed yesterday by a member of the Swapo Party Regional Executive Committee in Caprivi who accused fellow ruling party members from the Mafwe tribe of camouflaging their “real” motives by hiding behind tribalism to cause political instability.
Emotions came to a head after Swapo annulled the election of Leonard Mwilima, a Mafwe who serves as its regional councillor for Katima Mulilo Rural Constituency. Mwilima was “elected” showing stiff resistance to a Swapo directive to retain the incumbent Bernard Sibalatani, from the Masubia tribe, whose record was severely dented during the drought food debacle where he miraculously emerged unscathed following a high-level investigation.
After Mwilima’s election was annulled, some of his influential tribesmen said this clearly confirmed their worst fears that their party, Swapo, is opposed to a Mafwe governor after the last governor from that tribe, John Mabuku, escaped to Botswana.
Mabuku, who was among a handful of people from Caprivi implicated in a clandestine plot to secede Caprivi through an armed rebellion, skipped the country together with his mentor, Mishake Muyongo, who was once a prominent opposition politician.
A Swapo Regional Executive Committee member yesterday claimed a group of influential individuals from the Mafwe tribe are “hiding” behind alleged tribal marginalisation to cause political instability in Caprivi.
The official, who requested anonymity lest he is seen as having tribal bias, accused fellow Swapo members from the Mafwe tribe of using what he called “Nyamu tactics”.
The first of which is to feed the media with misinformation on the alleged marginalisation, secondly to remain in Swapo and cause “destabilisation” and thirdly to form or join another political party.
He stressed that since this position was promulgated in the early 90s, the first governor of the Caprivi was Felix Mukasa and was followed by John Mabuku, both from the Mafwe tribe and that if anything, the Masubia could have cried foul but they did not.
At a meeting held yesterday, John Mukaya, the Secretary for Information and Mobilisation in Katima Urban District said the defiance to the party’s directive “if allowed will lead to chaos” and the Swapo Party will become ungovernable in the region.
“The issue of regional governors is neither a tribal issue nor a regional issue but a national concern. Therefore ambitious individuals and opportunists must not be allowed to use tribe and colour to create conflict in the Swapo Party,” said Mukaya.
He said in terms of the Swapo Party procedures for elections, Regional Council and Local election sub-section (e) concerning the election of regional governors, instructions were directed to all Swapo Regional Executive Committees to nominate three names.
And from the three names, only one was to be submitted to the Political Bureau for its endorsement. He said at a meeting on December 14, all Swapo Party Regional Management Committee members did not object when Ignatius Nkunga, the party’s Regional Coordinator in the Caprivi Region, instructed that they should adhere to the directive to retain Sibalatani.
Three Regional Councillors later made a U-turn and defied the agreement resulting in the present impasse where Caprivi has been without a governor for a month.
One Swapo member said individuals claiming the Masubia are favoured by the powers that be and are using tribalism as a scapegoat to camouflage their real intentions.
“We should not mix tribalism with Swapo Party procedures. The issue is to follow party procedures and the Caprivi should not be an exception. It should be like any other regions,” said the ruling party official.