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Kavango,Caprivi tension looming

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“Logic has it that, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Kavango has categorically denied its neighbour, the Ohangwena region for the latter’s cattle-herders to use its land for only grazing let alone ownership,” Caprivi Concerned Group

By Patience Nyangove

TRIBAL tensions pitting Caprivians against Kavangos over regional boundaries follow­ing comments by the late Kavango Regional Governor Maurus Nekato and Hamubukushu Chief Ervin Mbambo that they intend to move forward the territorial jurisdiction of the Kavango eastwards to the Kwando River in the Caprivi have ignited provoca­tion..
A concerned group of Caprivians comprising of University of Namibia (Unam) Pro-Vice Chancellor for Finance, Dr Boniface Mutumba; Vincent Sina­lumbu, a Deputy Director at Parliament; Gladstone Mut­wa, who works in the Ministry of Jus­tice legal drafting de­partment; Benjamin Mabuku, who works in the Min­istry of Foreign Af­fairs, former manag­ing director of the then Amcom, now the National Develop­ment Corpora­tion (NDC), Ben Siyam­bango; Dr John Lilem­ba, a lecturer at Unam; Dr Vincent Sazitaa, a lecturer at the International University of Management (IUM) and seventeen others, in submissions to the Delimita­tion Commission, accused the Kavango leaders of ad­vocating theft of land from the Caprivi region.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba, appointed High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka as Chairperson of the Commission, with retried diplomat, Dr Zedekia Nga­virue and Namibia Statistical Agency Chief Executive Officer John Steytler to advise him in June on matters pertaining to the delimitation and demarcation of the boundaries of constituencies and political regions in the country. Their work will enable the Electoral Commission of Namibia to compile a new Voter’s Roll in preparation for the National Assembly and Presidential Elections scheduled for next year.
The concerned Caprivi group argue that the pro­posed “stealing” of “more land” from the Caprivi will create instability in the country.
“To advance an argument that the Kavango Re­gion needs to first extend its territorial jurisdiction eastward to the Kwando River and the Region needs to be divided into two regions in order for the people of Kavango to receive fair share of the distribution of national resources is definitely a fallacy. This state­ment is rather naive and unfortunate and is in conflict with government policy of administering the country through thirteen regions,” they wrote.
The group said it was not only illogical but a pro­vocative stance that will most likely bring disunity in the country that the Kavango wants to get a fair share of the distribution of national resources by grabbing land from its adjacent sister region.
“It is the same as saying to bring meaningful sus­tainable development to the Ohangwena Region part of Kavango Region be grabbed in order to expand the Ohangwena Region so as to create two regions, espe­cially the pending case of cattle herders. Logic has it that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Kavango has categorically denied its neighbour; the Ohangwena region for the latter’s cattle herders to use its land for only grazing let alone ownership.
“What makes the Kavango Region think that it is in order for them to keep on encroaching on the Caprivi
land? Is it because the people of the Caprivi were quiet when the Divindu Prison was constructed amid reports that one of the Chiefs allocated land to Government without consent of the owners of the land who are people of Caprivi?” the group wrote to the Delimitation Commission.
According to the concerned group, the Caprivi Strip was ceded to Germany five years after the Ber­lin Conference as it would grant free access from its protectorate South West Africa to the Zambezi River by means of a strip of land and the said Caprivi Strip stretched from Andara at Kavango up to Impalila.
“This strip was never divided into two. It has al­ways been the whole strip that is Caprivi Strip. Thus none of the land of the strip of the Caprivi belongs to Kavango.”
The concerned group said it was wishful thinking the perception that Western Caprivi has at any stage in the past from pre-colonial, to colonial times and after independence ever been a part of the Kavango Region.
“No historical record can attest to that as a fact. Any historical map from the 1890s onwards will clearly show that Andara was the eastern most part of the haMbaukushu people, by extension, mean­ing the border of the Kavango with the Caprivi. The Okavango River served the boundary purpose for ease administrative control purposes. The stretch of land up to Kongola has always been known as the Western Caprivi, while Kongola to Impalila was Eastern Caprivi.”
The group also alluded that during the early 1960s and early 1970s people intending to cross the Oka­vango River at Bagani needed to obtain permits in Rundu to allow them into the Caprivi.
“As if that was not enough evidence, bill boards have been erected at the Bagani crossing point, long before the bridge was built, signalling to any visitor crossing the river that he/she was at that point enter­ing the Caprivi.”
The group recommended to the Delimitation Commission to restore the boundaries of the Capri­vi from Andara to Impalila as well as that political boundaries take cognisance of regional boundaries.
They also proposed that if there is need to create another constituency within the Caprivi Strip which stretches from Bagani to somewhere in Chetto, the constituency should fall under the jurisdiction of the Caprivi Regional Council.
“The Mukwe constituency should be relocated across the river and be accountable as it is now to the Kavango Regional Council, despite the provocation and bearing in mind that our land starts at Andara. It is our humble opinion that the identities of the Oka­vango Region and the Caprivi Strip are maintained in order to avoid future misunderstandings.”
They also called on a joint dialogue led by Re­gional Governors from both regions attended by traditional leaders, regional councillors, delimitation commissioners, politicians, academics/historians from the two regions to discuss this “potentially divi­sive” subject and find an amicable solution.
When contacted for comment Dr Mutumba while confirming writing the submission together with his peers said they were still waiting for feed­back from the Delimitation Commission.
“I just arrived last night from South Africa so I am not sure of what has happening but we are still wait­ing for feedback from the commission.”
Efforts to get comment from the Delimitation Commission were fruitless at the time of going to press as Confidente was sent from pillar to post try­ing to get hold of the commissioners.