News and Information
Losing streak at ballot box prompted plan for secession: witness
|November 25, 2005
* WERNER MENGES
ELECTORAL frustrations lay at the root of former DTA leader Mishake Muyongo's decision to pull his Caprivi-based political party out of the DTA and launch a bid to secede the region, the twelfth prosecution witness to testify in the main Caprivi high treason trial suggested in the High Court in Windhoek this week.
Muyongo - then still the President of the DTA - told a meeting of the party at the Katima Mulilo Community Hall in 1994 that if the DTA lost the elections that were on the cards at that time, he would pull his party, the United Democratic Party, out of the DTA, witness number 12 in the treason trial, Shailock Sitali Sinfwa, told Judge Elton Hoff on Monday and Tuesday.
At the same occasion, Muyongo also floated a suggestion that, in his view, part of Zambia's Western Province should be joined with the Caprivi Region, Sinfwa added in testimony that took the court back to the beginnings of a Caprivi-based separatist movement that is alleged to have focused its efforts in 1998 and 1999 on launching an armed campaign to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia.
Sinfwa told the court that he had been a branch chairman in the UDP in Caprivi from 1987, and had continued to serve in the same capacity in the DTA later on.
He said at a second meeting addressed by Muyongo that he attended - in 1998 at Katima Mulilo - Muyongo announced that he had withdrawn the UDP from the DTA, just as he had told the people four years earlier.
Muyongo added that he was going to secede the Caprivi Region, and in pursuit of that goal, was going to meet the chief of the Lozi people because, as he saw it, part of the Western Province in Zambia - where the Lozi, with their close historical and cultural ties to the inhabitants of Namibia's Caprivi Region, live - had to be joined to the Caprivi Region, Sinfwa related.
Muyongo also announced at the meeting that the UDP would be fighting to secede the Caprivi Region, he said.
The people at that 1998 meeting cheered Muyongo on, indicating that they supported his idea, Sinfwa added.
Muyongo's explanation for his plan to pull the UDP out of the DTA was that the DTA was losing every election, Sinfwa said.
By 1994, the DTA - and Muyongo - were facing the test of that year's National Assembly and presidential elections.
The DTA suffered a second consecutive ballot-box defeat at the hands of the ruling Swapo Party, of which Muyongo had once been the Vice President.
In 1994, the DTA saw its share of the vote in the National Assembly election decline from 28,9 per cent in the 1989 Independence election to some 20,5 per cent five years later.
Muyongo actually proved to be more popular than his party, but still had to settle for receiving 23,6 per cent of the vote in the presidential election, against then President Sam Nujoma's 76,3 per cent.
Sinfwa claimed that among the people who attended both the 1994 and 1998 meetings, were a former DTA member of the National Assembly, Geoffrey Mwilima, and Alfred Tawana, who used to hold a senior position in the UDP.
In court on Monday, though, Sinfwa stumbled badly when asked to actually point out which of the 120 men in the dock were Mwilima and Tawana.
When asked to identify Mwilima, he pointed out the wrong person, Barnard Mucheka.
And when asked to point out Tawana, he claimed that Mwilima was the person that he had spoken about.
He repeated these mistakes when asked after the court's mid-morning adjournment to go through the dock identification again.
He had an explanation for these mistakes, though.
"The faces of these people have changed," he said.
When Deputy Prosecutor General Taswald July asked him in what way they had changed, he answered: "They are fat."
His testimony may also have been watered down some more during cross-questioning.
Sinfwa told the court while being questioned by defence lawyer Jonathan Samukange that Police officers had not only been present at the 1998 meeting, but also escorted people from the meeting to Muyongo's house afterwards, and that not everyone at the meeting necessarily agreed with what Muyongo was saying there.
Sinfwa was followed into the witness box on Wednesday by a former UDP-DTA party colleague, Progress Mibonda, who told the court that he, too, had been a branch chairman of the two parties in the Caprivi.
Mibonda never even mentioned the word secession in his testimony - and in return faced not a single question of cross-examination from the nine defence lawyers.
He told the court that in 1996, after returning from a DTA meeting in Windhoek, a meeting was held at Muyongo's house at Katima Mulilo.
At that meeting, "the big man" - as Mibonda referred to Muyongo - was trying to work out the reasons for the flagging fortunes of the DTA, Mibonda said.
He said he had been involved with the UDP since 1985, but it was at that meeting that he, for the first time, heard about an agreement that Muyongo indicated he had concluded with Nujoma: that the Caprivi Region would be given its own independence once Namibia's independence had been attained.
Some of the other 120 men in the dock have also made repeated claims about the existence of such an agreement, allegedly dating from November 5 1964, without being able to produce a copy of the document.
Mibonda was not given the benefit of having been shown the agreement either, the court heard.
He said when a party colleague of Muyongo, the late Godwin Siyongo, asked Muyongo if he could see the agreement and get a copy of it, Muyongo became annoyed and dismissed the meeting.
Muyongo said the agreement was valuable, that he (Muyongo) knew it, and it was none of their business, Mibonda told the court.
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