Traditional leaders in Kavango West and East regions are unaware of tomorrow’s planned blockage of the Trans-Caprivi Highway by residents who feel excluded from leadership positions.
The Namibian newspaper yesterday reported that residents of Kavango East and Kavango West plan to block roads tomorrow to protest the perceived exclusion of people from the two regions from key government positions.
The recent dismissal – albeit with a golden handshake – of Professor Joseph Diescho from his position as the executive director of the Namibian Institute for Public Administration and Management (Nipam) is said to have also fuelled the plans to demonstrate.
Among the roads supposedly targeted to be blocked is the Trans-Caprivi Highway, one of the main roads through which cargo is transported to the Zambezi Region, Zambia, the DRC and Tanzania.
However, many chiefs were not aware of the planned demonstration, and this reporter had to read The Namibian’s article to them as they were completely in the dark about the rumoured uprising.
Among the leaders who disputed knowledge of the demonstration was Hompa (Chief) Eugene Kudumo of the Ukwangali tribe, who charged that the chiefs were being unjustly accused of instigating people to block roads.
“What the article said is not true, we are not part of the demonstration and we have not heard of it; they are just using our names,” Kudumo said.
According to Kudumo, during a meeting last week Thursday about the Vanyemba association which is pushing for its own traditional authority in Kavango, two regional councillors – who had just returned from Windhoek – walked into the meeting and told attendees that their friends in Windhoek have a grievance about government’s exclusion of people from the two regions and Diescho’s dismissal.
“They said people in Kavango must act and we, as chiefs, advised that this is not how things are done. If they want to come and sit and talk they should come but as traditional leaders we cannot de-monstrate,” Kudumo said.
“If our subjects have complaints, they should bring them to us and then – through the governor’s office – we will see how to tell the president that this is the problem our people are facing or this is what our people want to be addressed.”
Furthermore, he said, traditional authorities do not instigate public demonstrations.
“I also told the two councillors that the issue of Joseph Diescho should be solved differently not by demonstration – he was hired by Nipam, so procedures should be followed.”
“He can take Nipam to the labour court if he was unfairly dismissed because as traditional leaders we don’t know the actual reasons why he was fired,” Kudumo said.
“We cannot defend each and every Kavango resident dismissed from his or her job. That is what I told the two councillors when they entered the meeting and that is what happened but I don’t know about the demonstration,” he said.
Chief Alfons Kaundu of the Mbunza tribe in Kavango West Region, who is also the chairperson of the traditional leaders of the two Kavango regions, said he was not aware of such an activity.
Kaundu said that he only heard of the article yesterday morning after someone phoned him and told him of the content.
“I know nothing about the plans to block the roads or any demonstration, I don’t know where that reporter got that from. I also asked the NBC RuKavango Service earlier to allow me time to clear the air on what The Namibian newspaper wrote which I and my fellow traditional leaders are unaware of,” the Mbunza chief further said.
He said that the only thing he knows is that together with other traditional leaders they are planning to have an audience with President Hage Geingob on matters concerning the regions, but that is planned for next year.
He said they have requested the governors’ offices to make an appointment for them with the head of state.
“We want to see the president so that we can talk about our people’s representation in parliament and other senior government ranks like heads of mission, ambassadors and so on, because currently we only have two ministers, one ambassador and two permanent secretaries but yet we are the second biggest population and we vote more than others but we are still not well represented,” he said.
New Era also spoke to the interim hompa of the Vashambyu tribe, Theresia Donna Haupindi, and according to her she was also not aware of the planned demonstration, saying the article caused confusion but they do things maturely.
“The traditional authority is unaware of that and has not called on anyone to demonstrate,” she said.
Kavango East Governor Dr Samuel Mbambo, when approached for comment, said he was also unaware of the planned road blockade and in the same vein condemned such plans.
“That is news to me, I just read the news article and I don’t think there is any structure or organisation that has arranged this demonstration which is in the paper. If anyone has organised this then it was done outside the structures of the regional leadership like the governor’s office, the regional council, political parties and so on,” Mbambo said.
Furthermore, Mbambo said, such an event or demonstration should be discouraged as it does not build nationhood and can ruin what the country has built over the years, including peace co-existence, stability and the new administration’s approach to include each and every Namibian.