News and Information

February 23, 2007

Posted by: nshr on Feb 22, 2007 - 04:53 PM

February 22 2007

NSHR is disturbed by the fresh and credible reports that the Government of Namibia (GoN) remains at the center of the unresolved tribal conflict that has been simmering between the Mafwe and Masubia tribes in the volatile Caprivi Region.

At the center of present feud are three villages, viz. Muyako, Mubiza and Sikanjabuka, which traditionally and historically resorted under the jurisdiction of Mafwe tribe. However, according to two official GoN documents in NSHR’s possession the three villages in “Muyako area be under the jurisdiction of Masubia Traditional Authority”. One of the documents, dated December 29 2006, came from President Lucas Pohamba, while the other, dated February 12 2007, came from Regional, Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister John Pandeni.

In a Press Release on March 17 2005 NSHR warned about what it described as “a potentially violent inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflict over village jurisdiction is looming ...” in the Region. According to human rights monitor sources at the time, the conflict was “triggered by a letter recently received from [Housing Minister] Joel Kaapanda ….” who, when reached for comment on the matter at the time, categorically denied any knowledge about the conflict. Minister Kaapanda allegedly sent the letter to the rival Masubia Traditional Authority (MTA), stating that the said villages now resorted under the jurisdiction of the MTA. The Mafwe Traditional Authority bitterly disputes this GoN decision.

NSHR is reliable informed that one of the reasons for the decision to bring the three villages under MTA jurisdiction was the intention on the part of former President Dr. Sam Nujoma to see the establishment of a sugar plantation scheme at Lake Liambezi. Aaron Mushimba, Nujoma’s wealthy brother-in–law, allegedly visited the area in February 2005 with the view to set up the plantation in the disputed area.

NSHR is of the strong opinion that GoN has been persistently and consistently persecuting ethnic Mafwe by inter alia fomenting the Mafwe-Musabia conflict as early as 1990. There is a pattern of commissions and omissions suggesting that GoN has indeed been fanning the inter-tribal conflict between the Mafwe and Masubia tribes:

· The 1991 presidential commission of enquiry into educational reportedly, officially known as the Levy Commission of Enquiry into Education in the Caprivi, has also found inter alia that the ruling SWAPO Party was at the center of the inter-tribal conflict and that GoN was favoring the Masubia tribe. The report of the said Commission has never been made public.

· In May 1993 another GoN-fanned conflict erupted between the two tribes over areas of jurisdiction of the two tribes, resulting in the Katima Declaration. Then Minister of Regional, Local Government and Housing Minister Dr. Libertine Amathila mediated this conflict.

· In yet another incident GoN had recognized two additional rival chiefs within Mafwe tribe. This tribal fragmentation incident has since been another source of potential intra-tribal conflict and divisions within the Mafwe tribe.

· The overwhelming majority of people who are being targeted in the marathon Caprivi secessionist saga are members of the Mafwe tribe.

In light of the above incidents, ethnic Mafwe are of the strong opinion that GoN is constantly persecuting them.

“NSHR fully shares the concerns of the Mafwe people. Hence, we are appealing to the Administration of President Lucas Hifikepunye Pohamba to address the ethnic and tribal problems in the Caprivi Region with the view to find an amicable solution and durable peace in that Region” said NSHR spokesperson Dorkas Phillemon.

Note: In case of any enquiries please call: Phil ya Nangoloh or Dorkas Phillemon at Tel: 061 253 447 or 061 236 183 (office hours) or Mobiles: 0811 299 886 (Phil) or 0811 499 988 (Dorkas)


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