Caprivi group speaks out against anti-seccession protests

Edwin Samati

The Caprivi Concerned Group (CCG) says residents of the Zambezi region should realise they are hampering their independence from Namibia through ongoing anti-secession demonstrations.

This was in response to the Masubia Traditional Authority spearheading an anti-secession demonstration in October, while the Judea-Lyaboloma constituency’s community members held a similar demonstration on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Kongola constituency is also planning an anti-secession demonstration for 12 November.

CCG secretary general Edwin Samati says it’s “strange to see normal people demonstrating against their own independence and freedom from illegal occupation and oppression”.

He says regardless of their motive, it’s pleasing to see people exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression and to peacefully protest.

“We only hope they are not expressing the opinions of a particular political party or the state, but rather their genuine thoughts or convictions. For many years, the political conflict in Caprivi has been considered too sensitive to discuss or too trivial for the government to attend to it.

“We, along with other peace-loving Namibians, made coordinated requests for a political dialogue and a referendum on the matter, but the government, Swapo, and our own traditional authorities blatantly refused.

“Therefore, it is encouraging to see them making coordinated efforts to take the first step in conflict resolution by acknowledging and showing the world a political dispute exists in the Caprivi Strip,” he says.

Samati says the group hopes the next step would be to consider a possible solution, with both sides hearing each other out regarding a referendum.

“A referendum is the best approach to resolving the dispute. We further call upon individuals who want independence and freedom in the Caprivi to remain calm and avoid the temptation of being confrontational or combative towards the peaceful protesters or the demonstrations.

“Instead, they should know and accept that these protests are intricately part of the necessary process towards resolving the Caprivi political dispute. Let peace, justice and freedom prevail. The debate must continue,” he says.

Samati denounces and expresses concerns over the rumours that state security has allegedly gathered evidence suggesting those who wish to be independent are preparing to launch an attack.

“This misinformation is to encourage people to participate in the aforementioned demonstrations. We need to recognise that our society is traumatised, having experienced the brutality of the South African colonial forces at the peak of Namibia’s armed liberation struggle and the brutality of Namibian repression in 1999.

“Therefore, such elements and their propaganda should be condemned with the contempt they deserve, because they are harmful as they may trigger painful memories,” he says.

In both petitions handed over by the Masubia Traditional Authority and residents of the Judea-Lyaboloma constituency, they pledge their support for the government, stating that Namibia is a unitary state, and trying to secede the Zambezi region is a crime.

The petitions further highlighted that the United Democratic Party’s members’ idea to secede the region is not welcomed in their localities and incites instability.

Additionally, the petitions stated that as much as Mishake Muyongo participated in the liberation struggle, he did not participate until the end.

Instead, he returned home and established a new political party.

The petitions were handed over to Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) is part of the people who unsuccessfully attempted to secede the Zambezi region (formerly Caprivi) from Namibia on 2 August 1999.

Muyongo formed the party in 1985 as a successor to the Caprivi African National Union.

In 1998, the UDP openly voiced support for the secession of the Caprivi, resulting in Muyongo and other leaders fleeing the country.

To date, UDP members, through the Caprivi Concerned Group, still seek dialogue with the government to discuss secession.

However, their attempts have been unsuccessful.

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