Re-elected Swapo district coordinator for Katima Rural Constituency, Jerome Kwenani, is credited for having quelled tribal animosity between Swapo members in the district.
In 2012 when he was first elected as coordinator, tribal division was so widespread that Swapo national leaders assigned to the Zambezi had to be summoned to oversee the hotly contested district election of 2012. However that seems to have changed since Kwenani took over, which led to his re-election on July18.
Chairperson of the Swapo Party electoral committee, John Likando, who oversaw Kwenani’s return to his position noted that tensions have since calmed down and that Kwenani’s mantra has been that of reconciliation – particularly between the warring factions of Mafwe and the Masubia, who had in the past crossed swords over who should be in control of the district. Likando stated that Kwenani has worked tirelessly and that Swapo members from both ethnic groups in the district have voted for him overwhelmingly.
“The election process never showed any tribal differences. People voted for him based on merit. His campaign has been about reconciliation. If you look at the leadership structure of the district you will see that it is both tribally balanced as well as gender sensitive,” said Likando. Approached for comment, Kwenani said he was persuaded to stand again and therefore felt the need to continue uniting the party in the district.
“I was persuaded to stand for another term to continue the legacy of unity within the district. During my previous term I went on a campaign preaching unity and listening to members’ grievances at all the branches of the district. I treated everyone equally without discrimination,” said Kwenani. According to Kwenani the idea of inclusiveness has worked in his favour as the tribal squabbles were subsequently squashed.
“We have advanced the idea of inclusiveness in all the party structures irrespective of tribe. The coordinator is from the eastern side while the mobiliser is from the west and so forth. That was never the case before,” said the retired senior civil servant.
The conferences for the district had to be postponed several times in 2012 after being embroiled in tribal wrangles and the fight for positions between the two tribes. The branches for the Katima Rural district falls within the two tribal authorities of the Masubia and the Mafwe. What in the past pitted the two tribes against each other within the party was the issue of increasing the number of branches, that some felt had an unfair advantage over others.
At that time the police had to be called in to calm the situation.