A section of the media this week had it that inhabitants of the Epukiro Constituency in the Omaheke Region, living in Windhoek, came together recently to map the way forward in terms of development for this beleaguered constituency.
Beleaguered? Not only in terms of the internecine feuds that have been pitting brother against brother, son against father, daughter against mother, and so on but the myriad tribal and various multiple feuds within this homogeneous cultural group have been of such proportions that development in the constituency has, literally speaking, been frozen.
These feuds come from years predating the current political era. One would have thought the new political era would usher in a new developmental era. But to no avail. The age-old nuances within the traditional community, and inter-traditional communities, have somehow become a legacy the constituency has not been able to wrestle itself from.
And instead of the new political realities providing a much-needed break from such, at times they have been seen to fuel and exacerbate such, with inter- and intra-community relations at an ever all-time low in the history of the constituency – known to have little peace amongst itself. And ultimately the only loser and/or collateral victim has been and continues to be development.
There is no doubt what prompted and drove the inhabitants of the constituency to agitate for the separation of the area, which was part of Otjinene Constituency until 2004 when the delimitation process severed it from Otjinene Constituency and the Epukiro Constituency was born, is the seeming lack of development in Epukiro.
The perception – whether wrong or right – has been that because Otjinene Constituency has since independence been first a DTA, and then a National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) electoral stronghold, government has been hesitant to aid its development.
During elections this perception that development would only be channeled to the ruling party’s strongholds has over the years even been fuelled by the ruling party’s own campaigners, who seem to have been trumpeting this message hoping in the process to woo voters from other political parties. Thus, consciously or unconsciously making them guilty of politicising regional and local government elections, which are supposed to be essentially about development.
While regional and local government election candidates are meant to be selected, nominated, judged and eventually elected on merit in terms of their ability, competence if not willpower, eagerness and energy, to instrumentalise if not realise development, the contrary has been true. Hence, despite the constituency having been under the political stewardship of the ruling party for two consecutive terms now, development has been nothing else but elusive as the concerned inhabitants of Epukiro, who recently came together, may testify and certify to.
And ultimately, this somehow must be the motive that must be driving them towards a re-awakening and re-grouping to map the way forward for the development of the constituency. Thus, one cannot but fully agree that, indeed, the development of Epukiro needs more than divine power and intervention. And the recent initiative by the inhabitants of the constituency may just be the start and move in the right direction. But if only all of those claiming bona fide habitation of the constituency as their borrowed habitat, until the land returns to its rightful owners, and other sojourners for that matter, would be humble and determined enough to ensure that this initiative is devoid of the same internecine tribal hang-ups or schisms that have been mitigating against the very development they are craving for.
The schisms that for long have been rendering the constituency one of the least, if not the only undeveloped constituency in Namibia in the words of one of the Pan-Africanists of all times, Walter Rodney, recognising that we just have been marking the 52nd birthday of the AU.
The Epukiro Constituency Development Trust (ECDT), I vividly remember, was launched in Omauezonjanda on December 15, 2007. Then under the guidance and guardianship of the constituency councilor, Brave Tjizera. Eight years down the line there seems little sign of development in the constituency. And it’s anyone’s guess whether the ECDT still exists, albeit just in name.
On the contrary divisions and symbols of retrogression seem to have been the hallmark of all these years since the establishment of the ECDT. In the same breath one cannot but welcome this noble initiative by these concerned inhabitants of Epukiro Constituency while inclining to reflect on 2009 with the Omaheke Region Economic Conference which took place in Gobabis. This latest initiative by the concerned inhabiatnts must be the Rubicon for Epukiro!