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Unilateral expansion of the Kavango Region: A slap in the face among the Caprivi residents
September 9, 2011
Personally speaking with Mr. Robert Tapiso MatongelaBy Matongela Robert Tapiso

Ample literature has been written and read on the geographical location of the Caprivi region. Perhaps the core emphasis of this argument could involve the fact that the Caprivi region is a protrusion into the mainland stretching from Impalila to Andara. In fact it should be understood that the region is traversed by two perennial rivers namely Kwando and Kavango. It also has rivers such as Chobe, Linyanti and Zambezi serving as natural boundaries. This region has since the period during the scramble of Africa been divided into Western and Eastern Caprivi. I think this is not news to many Namibians. As it was impossible to separate the two Germans by an artificial wall, it is mentally unsound to divide the Caprivi which geographically is 500 km long and 80 km wide.

One wonders as to what prompted the move to incorporate western Caprivi to Kavango region. Today as we speak we have Kavango 1 and 2. Stories like these were unheard of ever since I was born. Is it because of the Okavango River that runs through it? Is it because of Divundu which is far away from Katima Mulilo? Could it have been the then prevailing Savimbi issue that created instability in the area? Was it because the then administration at Katima Mulilo was not fulfilling its mandate? Is it because the people of the Eastern Caprivi are unfit to enjoy the natural resources of Western Caprivi? All these questions may be hypothetical but the ideal point is that this region could not have been divided on superficial grounds of this nature. It is a pity that tribes in Eastern Caprivi are vying for supremacy at all times. Things like these can happen when people are not united. Feuds of this nature create loopholes through which activities like these can penetrate. The tribal tendencies in our region as alluded have eaten the unity fabric to an extent where the inhabitant cannot even stand up as a united team and question what is going on. It is high time that the tribes in eastern Caprivi realized that they are loosing part of their land. Land is the most powerful resource, be it at grassroots, regional, national or international levels.

If I refer back to constituencies at independence, the Caprivi region was divided into 6 constituencies namely: Mukwe, Kongola, Sibbinda, Linyanti Katima Mulilo and Kabbe. This is exactly how it was and should be. It should be noted that the boundaries of the constituencies in various regions were established by proclamation 25 of 1992 and were released in a government gazette number 550 of 14 December 1992. This proclamation stipulates the names of constituencies per region of which Mukwe was part of the Caprivi. At certain occasions through acts of futility, the name Caprivi was to be substituted by Lyambezi region. Mukwe was erroneously substituted by Katima Mulilo Rural Constituency. If the creation of Katima Mulilo Rural Constituency was inevitable, what was wrong to make Caprivi have 7 constituencies? In some regions no changes were made whatsoever. What awful experimentation? The experiments were successful because of lack of unity in our region. These initial experiments were successful because of the loophole created by tribalism. Let us not be ashamed to see the Kavango signpost mounted at Kasheshe one of the good days. Did you know that other people call this region the Caprivi Panhandle or Kavango Strip? What unthinkable connotations!

Until the residents of the Caprivi become united. Until the Chiefs of the Caprivi region become one. Until all people living in this region look at issues pertaining to their region beyond tribal domains and political sloganeering, the previous wholeness the Caprivi it once was shall be a tedious haul to ever imagine mending. By allowing the incorporation of Western Caprivi to Kavango region, this graying folk shall contribute to having had violated one of the natural freedoms of our children namely: preservation of a natural habitat to call home. The people of Kavango resisted when the Oshiwambo speaking cattle headers intruded their land without consultation. The move to dismember part of the Caprivi is unwelcome and was supposed to have been questioned by our Chiefs, Regional Councilors and Senior citizens then had they have been united for the common good of their people. The Caprivi region is not a wilderness. It is composed of people similar to those in the Kavango region thus to unilaterally dismember a fraction of Western Caprivi ad infinitum will result in historical hurdles in future.

The delimitation could be made in consultation with the entire inhabitants of the region to signify transparency. The people of this region should understand that they may have different political or tribal domains but the logic is that they are all residents of the region regardless. I think the inhabitants of this region could serve nine if they through the current Governor, the Chiefs, Regional Councilors Church leaders and selected Senior citizens stand together regardless of their political convictions and tribal orientations question this trend of events with one voice. It is through the overarching and overriding values of unity, honesty, fraternity, integrity, team spirit, transparency and neighbourly love that trying moments like these can be succumbed. In this way we can create and nurture a truly transparent Namibia poised for a beacon of hope and collective vision so as to avoid our children from inheriting a legacy of hopelessness and non-entity 50 years hence. Mukwe should be re-claimed and become the seventh constituency of the Caprivi region. President Ronald Reagan when addressing a meeting in the then Soviet Union remarked to the then Soviet President pertaining to East and West German by saying ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’. I hope this is not different from this issue in question but results can be realized through concerted efforts.

In short regions of Namibia were created by the same proclamation. They are thus equal. We do not expect some regions to be super-regions and others to assume statuses of low-key-regions. Rundu should not be the headquarters of the Caprivi region. All services which are not in this region should come closer to us as it is done in all regions and the regional boundary should be taken back to Mukuvi as per initial decree. Let us see a committee formed by stakeholders in consultation with the Regional Governor to spearhead the re-incorporation of Mukwe Constituency to its rightful mainland: the Caprivi Zipfel like it was before. The resources of Western Caprivi should be enjoyed by the people of Caprivi as a whole not indirectly. We may be free to reside anywhere within the boundaries of Namibia but this issue should be reviewed to make all citizens happy. All citizens need to be happy and feel secured to be able to propel the ship of economic transformation en route to realizing the fruits of Vision 2030. Kavango region should not capitalize on the Okavango River that wherever it passes it is Kavango Region. Kavango region has access to barely 400 km of this river while the rest is found meandering from Angola, through Caprivi and Botswana respectively. Little things like these should be carefully cross-examined to preserve our fragile democracy. There has never been Kavango 1 and Kavango 2 through out written history. Such a move is dehumanizing some concerned residents of the region regardless of their social standing, political inclinations and tribal fundamentalism. Caprivi is one. Let us not continue rewriting histories lest we confuse the youth who are going to grapple with land issues when we shall no longer be there.

Contact No: 0813221622


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