Zambezi traditional authoritiesadvocate 9th constituency for San

Traditional authorities in the Zambezi region say a ninth constituency should be created so that San communities could be directly in charge of development activities in their area.

The San community living in Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi region is dissatisfied with the slow pace of development in their area.

This has resulted in the community of Omega 3 village staging a demonstration last month, during which they undertook to apply to become part of the Kavango East region, since their development needs are not prioritised in the Zambezi region.

Currently, these San communities resort under the Kongola constituency.

The Masubia, Mafwe, Mashi and Mayeyi traditional leadership brought this up in a meeting they had with president Nangolo Mbumba at Katima Mulilo last Wednesday.

The Masubia Traditional Authority’s leader, Albius Kamwi, said if the San communities had their own constituency councillor their development would improve.

He proposed that the constituency office be located at Omega 3 village to ensure the communities get easier access to services.

“This would enable the San communities to start feeling a sense of belonging in the ‘Namibian House’. It would create a sense of being equally recognised, like every other Namibian.

“It has been 34 years since independence, so do we really think they could still not run their own affairs? If we argue along these lines, then we are no different from what the colonial regime used to say when justifying their continued subjugation of black Africans,” Kamwi said.

He said the San communities, as poor as they are, are expected to travel to Kongola, which is about 100km away, to access government services.

Alternatively, they travel 120km to Divundu to access government services.

“Either way, they are 300km from Rundu and 200km from Katima Mulilo to access better services. It is for these reasons that we will make a submission to the delimitation and boundary commission,” he said.

Mafwe Traditional Authority spokesperson Eustus Mbanga said the San communities in the former Western Caprivi need all the support they can get to form a constituency of their own and elect their own councillor.

He said this would ensure they do not feel excluded.

“We have capable San individuals who can become councillors. We therefore request that the border between the Kavango East and Zambezi be moved to Andara. Their constituency office could then be at Cheto or Omega,” he said.

Minister in the Presidency Christine //Hoëbes said the appointment of the delimitation committee was approved by the Cabinet last week, and that the committee would soon visit the regions.

She said the traditional authorities would then have the opportunity to share the issues they are faced with.

“If there is a compelling case, like the one you mentioned about the San communities being left out of government representation, this would be the opportunity for you guys to make your arguments,” //Hoëbes said.

In their petition, the San communities said they have no access to clean water or electricity.

This means pupils cannot study at night and teachers cannot print class activities, yet are expected to perform.

The petition further stated that pupils are walking about 20km to school every day and are exposed to being attacked by wild animals, while the hostel cannot accommodate them due to a lack of electricity.

The petition states that community members have to travel to Cheto, Kongola, or Katima Mulilo for access to healthcare services, because they don’t have a clinic.

Additionally, they do not have radio reception, which excludes them from staying informed on Namibian events and news.

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