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Caprivi crisis for Swapo Tribal tensions see Governor out in cold
December 27, 2007
Caprivi crisis for Swapo Tribal tensions see Governor out in cold


SOME Caprivi Regional Councillors have ousted long-serving Caprivi Governor Bernard Sibalatani, clearly acting against a directive of the ruling Swapo party to let all Governors in those regions controlled by Swapo remain in place until the 2010 elections.

The defiance of the Swapo instruction is seen as the first crisis the newly elected party leadership has to deal with, a source within Swapo told The Namibian.

Dissatisfaction with the performance of Governor Sibalatani led to the step, which was allegedly steered by four of the six Councillors, who are members of the Mafwe ethnic group.

Sibalatani is a member of the Masubiya tribe.

The Councillors made use of a provision in the Regional Council Act of 1992, which stipulates that every three years a chairperson of the Regional Council Management must be elected, "who shall be the Governor of the Regional Council".

Two Councillors were nominated - Sibalatani and Leonard Mwilima - but Sibalatani was not seconded.

This simple measure effectively ousted Sibalatani, who has held the post since 1999.

Mwilima was immediately sworn in last Friday by Magistrate Rachel Sakala.

Mwilima is also a member of the National Council.

Justice Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who is also the newly elected Swapo Secretary General, met the six Caprivi Regional Councillors, including Sibalatani and Mwilima, yesterday for three hours in Windhoek to discuss the situation.

According to a source close to some of the Councillors who were in attendance, the Minister told them yesterday that there would be "no Governor in place" until the matter is solved.

For the time being, all administrative issues would be taken care of by Chief Regional Officer Raymond Mutiti.

However, if a Regional Councillor or Governor is sworn in by a magistrate it is difficult to remove him.

According to the Act, only the Regional Council could remove him and only if gross misconduct could be proven.

"The man was sworn in legally after he was nominated, seconded and voted into the position," a lawyer told The Namibian.

Attempts to contact Minister Iivula-Ithana yesterday were unsuccessful.According to party insiders, the political fault line in the Caprivi Region runs along the Masubiya and Mafwe tribes.

"The Mafwe feel marginalised and treated as third-class citizens, as they are still suspected as being secessionists," a source well versed in Caprivi matters said yesterday.

"Swapo cannot just decide that the new Governor who was legally sworn in should not exercise his duties.

This will be challenged in court," the source said.

Local News

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