The never-ending campaign to secede the Zambezi strip from Namibia is unwarranted and deserves little attention in a democratic State like ours.
This week, 27 years into Namibia’s political independence, a group calling itself Caprivi Concerned Group has petitioned to President Hage Geingob – calling for what appears to be impossible in the eyes of many: A referendum to allow people from the Zambezi region[formerly Caprivi] to decide whether or not they want to be part of Namibia. Whether this renewed push for Zamexit is inspired by Brexit remains unknown.
Furthermore, the call by the group comes just three months after Namibian refugees (from Zambezi) – currently housed at the Dukwi Refugee Camp, in Botswana – threatened to revolt should the Namibian not cede to their call and declare Caprivi an independent state.
It should be noted that, the group in Dukwi are Namibian refugees who fled from their motherland, Caprivi Strip in the Zambezi region into Botswana following a secessionist crisis in 1998.
With this in mind, it does not take an Albert Einstein or an Isaack Newton to deduce the dangers that could erupt from the continuous demand for ‘Caprivi’s’ independence by a group of unsettled individuals who have put their personal interests ahead of Namibia’s safety and sovereignty.
To put the ‘Caprivi’ case into perspective, one should ask critical questions: How do the few people pushing for the independence intend to sustain the region (country) economically? Is the call for Caprivi’s independence genuine or is being used by unsettled politicians who want to settle political scores?
According to the recent labour latest Labour Force Survey, unemployment in the Zambezi stands 48% – what plan is in place by the secessionist group to address this predicament, in an event that the region is disbanded from the rest of Namibia?
The latest census report reveals that there a well over 90,000 people live in Zambezi, a mere 4% of the entire Namibian population. The population is mostly composed of subsistence farmers who make their living on the banks of the Zambezi, Kwando, Linyati and Chobe Rivers.
As such, questions around the viability of Zambezi as a country are pertinent.
Recent times has seen a rise in tribal motivated actions in Namibia, and Zambezi stands accused as being one of the most tribally divided regions at the moment. How will splitting Zambezi from Namibia unite the people of Zambezi?
Going forward, it would not be fair if we do not revisit the history of Caprivi separation from Namibia in formulating the basis of our argument.
According to records, in 1963, people living on the Caprivi Strip formed the Caprivi African National Union (CANU) with the sole intention of seeing Caprivi independent from oppression.
Subsequently that year, traditional leaders in the Caprivi Strip petitioned to the United Nation (UN) demanding freedom and independence of the strip.
In 1964, CANU and SWAPO joined forces to fight their common to fight for the liberation of Namibia through Swapo’s military wing, PLAN.
However, it is an open secret that a deal was struck between CANU and SWAPO, that upon defeating colonial South Africa, Caprivians will be asked if they want to be independent or be part of Namibia.
Surprisingly, in the run up to independence in 1989, there was no sign of ‘Caprivi’ wanting to separate from Namibia.
Shockingly, the now exiled Mishake Muyongo was part of the Constituent Assembly that formulated the constitution of Namibian. If the call for Caprivi’s independence was genuine, it would have been only realistic for the CANU leader to demand for such at the time.
As per the agreement, Caprivians at the time should have decided whether or not to be Namibians, and they chose.
Now 27 years later, we cannot allow a group of people to hold Namibia hostage just to suit their agenda at the expense of the well-being of the country.