News and Information

New Mafwe chiefdom smacks of 'divide and rule'
August 9, 2004

SUBJECTS of the Mamili royal house in the Caprivi have criticised Government for anointing another tribal chief, saying the move was politically motivated.

The Namibian was unable to get comment from the Khuta in Chinchimani, the seat of the Mafwe, following an announcement on Wednesday that Government had recognised Joseph Tembwe Mayuni as Chief of the Mashi or 'Mafwe Traditional Authority' - which already existed under that name.

But Libonina Liswaniso, a follower of Chief George Simasiku Mamili, said: "I think there is a total political goal, which the Government wants to achieve.

Otherwise it's a divide and rule tactic."

Mayuni's recognition is the third one within one tribal authority, which for decades fell under the Mamili royal house.

A Mayeyi tribal authority was created several years ago after running battles with the then DTA-aligned Chief Boniface Mamili, who is now in exile with veteran politician Mishake Muyongo.

Muyongo was a member of the Mamili royal house.

Liswaniso said the recognition of a third chief in the Linyanti constituency was bound to raise the simmering tension among splinter ethnic groups of Western Caprivi.

"It is just going to increase the animosity which already exists in the area," he said.

Liswaniso pointed out that the Mamili Khuta has been calling for a referendum to settle the argument over who should be ruling.

Another Mamili subject, said the Mayeyi Chief, Boniface Sifu, and Mayuni were "commoners" who owed their royal ascendancy only to contemporary Swapo politics.

"It is like taking [Ondonga] King Kauluma's headman and making him a chief equal to the king," he said.

Another subject questioned Mayuni's recognition as a Mashi chief saying: "There are no such people as Mashi.

That's just a name of a river, the Mashi-Quando Cubango River."

Mayuni they said, was an induna - a senior headman - of a sub-group that had hitherto resorted under Mamili.


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