Police dismiss tribalism claims

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By Magreth Nunuhe

WINDHOEK – The Deputy Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Des Shilunga, says allegations of tribal bias in the recruitment of police officers do not hold water as candidates are not recruited on the basis of ethnicity.

Shilunga was responding to claims by sections of the public that Nampol is not fair in its job selection as Oshiwambo-speaking Namibians are allegedly more favoured than other ethnic groups – even in regions they do not hail from.

Some high-ranking police officials reportedly also warned against the human resource make-up of the police force, saying a skewed recruitment of the men and women in uniform could pose a danger to national stability and is a sign of indignation to other tribes ‘not favoured’.

Just recently, the //Kharas Regional Governor Bernadus Swartbooi expressed his concern about promotions in the police force saying they should be done on a non-tribal and non-partisan basis.

But Shilunga maintained it has always been the mandate of the Inspector General (IG) Sebastian Ndeitunga to run the force on a balanced structure, adding that critics are welcome to point out where there are imbalances.

He said that in terms of the Police Act when they advertise vacancies they list criteria and conditions of employment but under no circumstances is it prescribed that an applicant must be from a specific tribe at the exclusion of other ethnic groups.

The deputy inspector general explained it was only in exceptional instances, guided by the recruitment policy, that the inspector general would give directives to include certain ethnic groups, such as inclusion of minority groups like the San.

However, Shilunga said they could also not discriminate against employing people who for instance hail from Oshikoto Region, but have moved to Hardap Region, just because they were not born in the particular region.

“It doesn’t say that if you come from Caprivi (Zambezi Region) you can’t be recruited somewhere else. As long as you are Namibian, you can be included in the force in any region,” he emphasised.

He stressed that every region is given a mandate to employ a certain number of police officers from the region, but it does not stipulate a person must come from a certain tribe.

Furthermore, Shilunga said every Namibian is welcome to be part of the force, including white people who are noticeably absent, and women and the disabled.

“The IG (inspector general) urges whites to apply. There is no such thing as a condition of employment (based on skin colour),” he added.
On the issue of Owambo tribe domination in the police force, Shilunga said people should look at the past in how the force was started in all establishments, where many former PLAN fighters were accommodated at independence.
“Let’s look at this holistically. We are not saying that it (the force) is not predominantly Owambo, but look at the ratio – they are the majority (in the country),” he said, adding that even the majority of those who went into exile were Owambo and that affected the tribal balance of the police force at independence.

He however urged people to look at progress and development, adding: “Let’s strike a balance in ethnicity.”
All in all, the deputy inspector general says, Nampol is one of the government institutions that is well represented as no tribe is left out.
“The IG should be applauded for this,” he stated.

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