By: Kelvin Chiringa
Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu’s assessment of the security situation in the region has been questioned by community organisers.
This week, Sampofu claimed that secessionist activities are going on in the region, spearheaded by some young teachers and elements from Dukwi.
Sampofu expressed this in his State of the Region Address (SORA), in which he said the activities are being conducted under the Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) umbrella.
“The overall situation in the region remains relatively calm but remains tense. There is a group of young people, some of them teachers, who call themselves the Caprivi Concerned Group, who are advocating, campaigning and mobilising for the banned United Democratic Party of Mishake Muyongo.
“Their actions are aimed to secede the Zambezi region from the rest of Namibia, thus, destabilising peace, stability and peace of the country. Some of the returnees in Dukwi, Botswana, are also joining in mobilising some communities to support secessionism activities in the region,” said Sampofu.
However, community organiser and activist Rasboom Mwemba claimed that is not what is on the ground here.
“The governor was supposed to come with the truth. I don’t think the activities done by the Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) are a security concern because these guys have petitioned the government. They wrote a letter also to parliament, which means they are ready to talk.”
“That is not a security concern. He diverted the issue. The security concern here is that people are afraid. They are not free due to the killings from Botswana and the land that Botswana has taken from us. If a country takes the land of another country, that’s already a threat. A lot of people have died at the hands of the BDF. That is the big threat that the governor was supposed to focus on and not to focus on the CCG issue,” he said.
However, Sylvester Kabajani from the Namibian Lives Matter Movement (NLMM) said that the CCG was carrying out work that is agitating toward the independence of the Caprivi, but that alone was not a security concern of large proportions.
Kabajani said the governor’s pronouncement might hinder tourism activities in the area.
“I don’t know where his observation is being drawn from, but I believe the security cluster in the country is well aware of what CCG is all about, and this is a group that has been in existence for a very long time.”
“They have made those efforts and those claims and asked for a referendum and asked for secessionist prisoners to be released. These are people that we are well aware of and what their activities are about. If they are really posing such a big threat, I think the security of this country is vested enough with resources to deal with them,” he said.
This is not the first time the governor has raised a red card on the CCG.
In 2016, the governor, addressing thousands of people who attended the annual Lusata Mafwe festival at Chichimani in the Sibbinda constituency, said young people must report secessionist activities.
The following year, the CCG petitioned Sampofu, calling for dialogue with the government to discuss matters to do with what they called the “freedom of Caprivi”.
“The UDP recognises Namibia, former South West Africa, as a sovereign state, and therefore it is willing and ready to enter into a political dialogue with the Namibian political leadership,” read their petition.
An insurrection attempt to claim the Caprivi Strip from the rest of Namibia was brutally crushed in 1999, resulting in the arrest of 132 accused master minders.
About 3 000 people sought refuge in Botswana, fearing reprisals, and accommodated at the Dukwi refugee camp.
These were preceded by what became known as the longest treason trials, which spanned years leading to incarcerations, although some have been freed in present-day Namibia.