Sipapela caught in tribalism storm

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Katima Mulilo

An audio clip with heavy tribal undertones and detailing a secret meeting suspected to have been masterminded by Linyanti Constituency Councillor Cletius Sipapela has leaked and shocked the Zambezi Region.

In the audio, recorded on November 4, Sipapela is heard lecturing Mafwe youth in Swapo to loathe and plot against other tribes, particularly the Masubia tribe, seen as the main rivals of the Mafwe ethnic grouping, to which Sipapela belongs.

The lengthy audio, although not entirely audible is close to two hours long and has Swapo Councillor Sipapela supposedly chairing a meeting composed mostly of Mafwe youth, where he expresses a desire for Mafwe people to take total control of almost all constituencies in the Zambezi Region at the exclusion of other ethnic groups. The recording was made prior to the recent regional and local authority elections.

In the meeting Sipapela – who boasts about being in constant contact with National Youth Council executive chairperson Mandela Kapere to pave the way for Mafwe youth in Swapo structures – is heard discouraging the youth from embracing the Masubias with ethnically chargedstatements.

“Whoever emerges as a leader, please come to your people (Mafwe). Don’t go astray. We have to clean these positions for ourselves, especially Katima Urban and even Kabbe North, where we have sections of Mafwe. When some of you guys get into a relationship with a Subia girl, you start associating with them. We must not rub shoulders with these people. Let’s not give them room to be where they are,” stated the controversial politican.

Sipapela’s hard-line tribal utterances continued as he lectured the youth on how to block the Subias in the political arena. “I will tell Mandela that we are going to do this. We should have all members made up of the Mafwe. The only way I can compromise for a Subia is maybe having one person and it should be a woman. We need to have a discussion with Mandela and after that we meet again,” stressed Sipapela.

However, a certain Mike – who was among the youth present – expressed doubt over whether Mandela Kapere could pull any strings to get more Mafwe youth elected, accusing Kapere of “trusting the other side.” Sipapela was not in agreement, saying Mandela is gullible at the moment as he faces tough competition to get re-elected.

“In Swapo it’s give and take. Other people are gearing [up] against Mandela and he would want to build his block. We have doubt if those boys (seemingly Affirmative Repositioning activists and Dr Elijah Ngurare) are gone forever, hence their case is still with the courts. They are working from outside,” Sipapela argued.
He advised the youth that his vision was mass representation for Mafwe people at the 2017 national and regional Swapo conferences.

“We have to make sure we have our people. Remember that’s where we need to clean. Our President (Hage Geingob) will be voted for the second term and he will ultimately take the position of president of the party. When Sam Nujoma came our elders were saying he is for Masubia,” Sipapela said.

It also became evident that the same youth – identified only as Mike – has been complaining that the representatives from that region sent to parliament are comprised only of the Mbalangwe clan, who form part of the Mafwe. According to Sipapela this sentiment was counterproductive.

“It has come to be known that there are complaints that all people who went to parliament are Mbalangwe. This is not how we should unite. It has become known that this person complaining is Mike. That makes us fall behind, because we run around joining other parties and come back to Swapo. Subias are consistent in the party. When we go down they don’t say Mayuni or Chichimane, they say Mafwe,” Sipapela can be heard telling the meeting.

It not clear where the meeting in question was held, but it seemed to focus on getting positions for Mafwe youth in Swapo structures.

Sariety Sikobiso, the secretary for Swapo Youth League in the region, who seemed to be have been present at the meeting, was castigated for not being loyal and is heard leaving the meeting before it concluded, an act that seemed to infuriate Sipapela.

“Are you leaving? You shouldn’t do that. You see, none of my colleagues (councillors) are here. We must finish the meeting in the spirit we came here for. I have committed myself to be here, that’s why I am here. We should not be pointing fingers at one another,” Sipapela is heard saying to Sikobiso. “Sariety, you must always remember where you come from. Think about what happened in 2012. Some of us are doing this because we understand the situation of our region”, interjected an unidentified female voice.

Governor of the Zambezi Lawrence Sampofu noted that his office has been alerted to the issue, but would only take a decision once he has thoroughly looked into the matter as he is currently in Windhoek on official duty.
Several attempts to get comment from Sipapela failed. He first told this reporter that he was in a meeting but did not answer calls later or respond to an SMS sent to his mobile phone.

Youth activist Charles Siyauya – one of Masubia tribesmen mentioned in the audio clip – noted that the issue has already been brought before the regional leadership and he is sure that a solution would be found. He felt Sipapela should be forgiven as he has already apologised. “The recording is about how Masubias should be left out of government and Swapo structures. We have trust and respect in the regional leadership, and as such we have submitted and discussed our concerns with Honourable Governor Sampofu and Honourable Sipapela apologised. Let’s not crucify Honourable Sipapela. We must also do self-introspection on whether we are truly anti-tribalistic,” Siyauya argued.

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