Rundu-The petitioners who claimed that central government committed a monumental injustice through the exclusion and marginalisation of Kavangos, the Muzokumwe Volunteer Organisation, is putting together a response that will be handed to government via Vice President Nickey Iyambo.
Muzokumwe feels the response Iyambo gave to the concerns they raised in their petition was biased and that the vice president dismissed everything in their petition. The VP handed his response on May 11 by hand to the Kavango West Governor and the Kavango East Governor to deliver to members of Muzokumwe Volunteer Organisation.
“Yes, we had enough time to respond but some things need consultation, so that when you respond you carry one voice,” said Paulus Mbangu, the chairperson of the volunteer organisation.
Over a week ago the group had a session with some residents from various parts of the two Kavangos to gather input to answer to the VP’s response, which they are now compiling. According to Mbangu, the group that advocates for social justice and equality for all Namibian citizens, was formed due to the high poverty rate in the two Kavango regions.
“The marginalisation of our people made us to form up Muzokumwe Volunteer Organisation with a purpose to advocate for social justice and equality for our people,” he said.
Muzokumwe on February 20last year, joined by various Kavango residents, held a demonstration against what they claimed to be underfunding of the two Kavango Regions, as well as exclusion and under-representation of people from the two regions at national level.
After their demonstration the group went to Windhoek to meet with President Hage Geingob, but ended up meeting with the vice president, as the president was busy elsewhere. The VP’s response was based on the allegations the group made in their demonstration and what they told the VP.
“Yes, we have received the response from the VP through our governors, but the response was biased and didn’t answer to our call,” Mbangu noted. “We said that from the 1989 election Kavango contributed to Swapo winning the elections and that’s a fact – all Kavangos voted for Swapo, hoping for change, but the representation of Kavangos in the configuration of the power structures of the government is not really there,” he observed.
“We raised the issue that Namibia has twenty-eight ministers, but being the second biggest tribe in terms of population we only have two Kavango ministers. Thirty-five deputy ministers, but none of them is a Kavango; more than forty ambassadors, but only one is a Kavango and since independence we have only had three ambassadors and the VP responded that when ministers are appointed they don’t check which tribe they are from, [as it is] not based on ethnicity or regionalism.
“Okay, if that’s the case – when Swaartbooi was fired from being a deputy minister they replaced him with a Nama and when he left swapo and resigned from parliament they still replaced him with a Nama – if you’re saying that when appointing they don’t apply ethnicity and regionalism why did they replace a Nama with a Nama? Which means the response is biased,” Mbangu argued.
“The VPs response further said when they appoint ministers and their deputies they submitted their CVs. We have it on record. There are some Kavango Members of Parliament,who have better CVs and qualifications than some of the ministers and deputy ministers, who only have a Grade 12 qualification. If they really looked at their CVs why have they not appointed some Kavangos with better CVs and qualifications?’’ he asked.
Mbangu said it is on record that there are Kavango MPs that have better experience and CVs than some ministers and deputy ministers, but they were not appointed as ministers and deputies.
He further said the country has many state owned enterprises (more than 70) and yet only two are headed by a Kavango. “The response from the vice president [was] that recruitment is based on qualifications [but] we have Professor Joseph Diescho seated at home unemployed. Who in Namibia has more qualifications than him?”
The petition, which was handed to the VP last year, claimed central government has ignored residents from the two regions and regards them only as “voting cows, who need to be given crumbs from the dinner table. There seems to be no targeted strategy by government to address the fate of the poorest regions in the short to long run”.
The petition urged government to work towards increasing representation of people from the two Kavango regions in management and other decision-making positions to an adequate and proportionate level.
They also requested government to put measures in place to ensure all national projects in the Kavango regions – in particular green scheme projects – benefit the people of Kavango, although not to the exclusion of Namibians from other regions.