Bad blood between Mayeyi Swapo supporters and Linyanti Constituency Councillor Cletius Sipapela – who emerged victorious in the just-ended Swapo primary elections for Linyanti district – continue to divide the constituency.
According to information obtained from well-placed sources, Swapo members and supporters in areas such as Malengalenga, Kachilamupepo, Malihela, Batubaja and Mbilajwe, are planning to boycott the upcoming regional elections because of what they allege to be Sipapela’s continuous ostracism of people in the area in terms of development and community meetings.
The longstanding tension dates back to 2013 when Mayeyi Chief Boniface Shufu publicly rebuked Sipapela during a traditional festival, accusing him of sidelining his subjects in terms of development. The concerned areas are largely inhabited by members of the Mayeyi ethnic group and remained under the Linyanti constituency following the creation of the Judea lyabolloma constituency, wherein the majority of Mayeyi now live.
The fourth delimitation commission recommended in 2013 that the constituencies of Linyanti and Kabbe South in the Zambezi Region be split into two, with new constituencies, now known as Judea Lyaboloma and Kabbe South.
“No meetings have ever been held by Sipapela in these areas since he was elected as councillor. The only meetings he holds here are when a senior government official, like a minister, visits the area,” one villager complained. “Even when we have water problems and he is informed, he has never come here. When Independence celebrations for the constituency were arranged, none of the areas concerned were invited.”
Further sticking-points – other than the alleged neglect – concern Swapo branch structures in the district. According to sources, the concerned areas have only one branch each, compared to other areas in the constituency, meaning such arrangement has the potential to disadvantage Mayeyi candidates who would like to run for positions.
“When we held primaries people in these areas were not provided with transport and arrived late at the elections. When we queried the councillor, he told us he could not arrange transport for people who hate him. Each of these areas only has one branch, while places like Linyanti or Kapani have more than one branch, but the population is not even comparable to our areas,” another source pointed out.
Contacted for comment Swapo branch coordinator for Malengalenga Abel Mubu referred all queries to Swapo’s regional coordinator Linus Mafale, stating that he had no authority to speak to the press. Mwangala Musukubili – also branch coordinator for Sumudono – did not want to be drawn into the matter, but conceded that no meetings have been held by Sipapela in the area since taking office.
Mafale could, however, not comment on the grievances of party members, saying he knows nothing about the issue.
Sipapela in turn downplayed the accusations, noting that it was just cheap propaganda aimed at tarnishing his name prior to the elections. He attributed the criticism to disgruntled people who had failed to sail through the primaries.
“We have Swapo supporters in those areas and we are working hard to bring development. At Sumudono we have built nine houses for teachers, and a primary school at Kachilamupepo. We replaced a transformer at Malengalenga and a clinic will be built at Mbilajwe in January, and they just got water there. Batubaja has also been electrified. Chief Shufu has even assured me that people will vote for Swapo,” Sipapela noted.