By Chrispin Inambao
The picturesque Impalila Island in Caprivi, once eyed for a luxury development by American superstar Michael Jackson during his well-documented Namibian visit, would have a five-star hotel after villagers reluctantly parted with land.
Located at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, this island from the air is a breathtaking mosaic of waterways, floodplains and bushveld while on the ground it comprises an abundance of birdlife and its waters are a line fisherman’s paradise.
During his visit to Namibia in mid-1998 the American pop star expressed keen interest in investing a fraction of his fabulous wealth in a five-star hotel at the unique Impalila Island where four countries – Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana – converge.
But the planned investment never took off despite Government at the time having hosted the superstar lavishly, including flying him to the north in the presidential jet.
Last Friday Masubia Chief Kisco Liswani III said his subjects at Impalila have now paved the way to enable a South African tycoon to develop a five-star lodge on the unique island sandwiched by the Zambezi and Chobe rivers in an area rich in game.
The chief, complemented by the ruling Swapo Party Councillor for Kabbe Constituency Peter Mwala, has been instrumental in convincing villagers to put aside trivial tribal differences as he has been telling them about its far-reaching and long-term benefits.
He said during his recent visit to the area the community personally informed him they have donated a piece of land in the area between Silumbu’s village and Kakumba after they amicably resolved several matters on land ownership and other pressing issues.
“The community wholeheartedly gave the go-ahead for the construction of the envisioned five-star hotel by a South African investor who has in the past made several visits to Impalila,” said the chief, who added the site for the planned development is in the area of the old graveyard.
“I want to use this opportunity to convey my thanks and gratitude to the entire Impalila community, particularly those in the area where the hotel would be constructed,” he said.
He said once the hotel takes shape it will create much-needed employment and that all unemployed residents of the idyllic island would be employed at the hotel.
He said once South African tycoon Laurence van Schalkwyk receives the go-ahead from the Land Board he would go ahead and start constructing the long-delayed tourism project.
Currently Impalila boasts several lodges, an airstrip, a conservancy, a clinic, a primary and a secondary school and a police sub-station though it lacks piped water.
On the issue of the lack of potable water, the chief appealed to the relevant directorate to install water infrastructure on the island as its residents are daily subjected to crocodile attacks when they fetch water from the Zambezi and Chobe rivers where there are far too many crocodiles that kill and eat humans.
“Each year there are reports of children having been caught by crocodiles in that area, especially along the Zambezi River,” he said.
Even the single nurse who also performs mid-wifely duties also fetches water to clean mothers and newly born babies from the Zambezi River.
The other issue raised by Chief Liswani III is that Impalila has seen an increase in a string of thefts in which lodge operators in that area have suffered losses at the hands of marauding gangs of thieves suspected to come from Zambia.
He said water pumps and boat engines seem to be highly sought after by these gangs of night raiders and he also appealed for intensified police patrols and the strengthening of a police unit before the situation spirals out of control.
While he was at Impalila he was informed that pensioners at Kasika have not received their N$370 monthly stipends since last December, because the people dispen-sing pension payouts claim the machine used for the processing of these payments is broken down.
The Masubia chief also bemoaned the fact that Bukalo where his Khuta is located has seen an upsurge in the number of stabbing incidents, particularly at drinking places and he appealed to bar owners to stick to the operating hours stipulated in their licenses.
He was referring to an incident last week when Silimwe Mugwala Simasiku was fatally stabbed to death at the once very popular Highlife Bar in a seemingly unprovoked attack.
He also appealed to law enforcement agents in the area to work closely in tandem with bar owners to ensure the latter strictly adhere to hours prescribed in their licenses.
Apart from the increase in the number of knifing incidents, the chief further said last week one man travelling from Ngoma was caught with an AK-47 and a substantial amount of bullets, though the unidentified suspect bolted into nearby bushes and is still at large.