The Mayeyi people in the Zambezi Region are unhappy with what they regard as their continued exclusion and marginalisation from the government development agenda and positions of authority since Namibia’s independence in 1990.
The Mayeyi, who are among the first inhabitants of the Zambezi Region and whose current leader is Chief Boniface Shifu, say they have not benefitted from major government projects, such as rural electrification, potable water supply and the tarring of roads, unlike other tribes that have evidently benefitted.
According to Mayeyi sources that spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, areas that fall under the Mayeyi community in the Judea Lyaboloma Constituency have not fully benefited from government projects in comparison to other areas.
“Development in the Mayeyi areas has been very slow when you compare to other areas and we don’t know why this is so. For example, things such as telephone connection, water and electricity have not reached our area while other areas enjoy these benefits,” said a source that chose not to be named fearing possible reprisals.
Johani Mavuna, one of the concerned youths from the area says even basic services such as water remain a problem and questioned why the long-awaited water pipeline stagnated at Kapani, which is over 50 kilometres before Sangwali.
“Water is a problem. The pipeline ended at Kapani. Places like Mbilajwe have water problems. Electricity is also currently a problem. The pipeline was supposed to reach Sangwali but nothing up to now. By the look of things, the pipeline might end up at Kapani. They have to explain to us,” complained Mavuna.
Mavuna further stated that the inclusivity political talk would remain rhetoric if minority tribes such as the Mayeyi and others feel left out.
“Should we fight with government to get development? Mayeyi areas have not benefited much. When are the promises going to be fulfilled? Our leaders talk about inclusivity but this seems not to be the case,” complained Mavuna.
Another youth from the area also noted the Mayeyi community has not had a high profile representative in government at ministerial level since Namibia’s independence leading to their continued political marginalisation.
“No Muyeyi has been chosen to represent us as a Member of Parliament or minister since independence. It’s only the current governor (Lawrence Sampofu). Is it that there’s no Muyeyi who can be chosen in government. Why is this happening? Development is slipping away from us because we don’t have a representative in government,” lamented the youth.
He further noted that those that are chosen as their “leaders” often neglect areas falling under the Mayeyi community concentrating on their own interests.
“Some of these people representing us don’t even know our areas. Those that we choose are only bringing development in their own areas. We vote people to get into positions and the same people don’t take us seriously,” lamented the youth.
Linyanti and Judea Lyaboloma constituencies’ councillor, Cletius Sipapela, could not be reached for comment as his phone went unanswered. However, a well-placed source that chose not to be named revealed that the water pipeline would be extended to Sangwali in the third phase.
“The pipeline stopped at Kapani due to the fact that the water pressure became low not because it is the councillor’s village. From Kapani it will go up to Maunga. Sangwali will be connected from Kongola in phase three,” said the source.
It was also revealed that Sangwali is currently being connected to the power grid and they refuted claims that solar panels being installed meant the electricity and water would not reach Sangwali. “Solars are being installed even in areas where there is a pipeline. It is an alternative power and water source. If you go to Sangwali right now, you will find poles. They are busy connecting electricity,” noted the source.
The Mayeyi people, a minority group, are mostly found in the south-western part of the Zambezi Region. They have a unique language known as Shiyeyi that contains clicks. For long, the community has been moaning over the slow pace of development in the area particularly electricity and water provision.
The community has fallen out with Sipapela alleging that he has been side-lining Mayeyi areas in terms of development in the constituencies.
The hostility reached boiling point in 2013 when Mayeyi chief Boniface Shifu publicly rebuked Sipapela during the annual Mayeyi traditional festival.