CCG Public Meeting Successfully Conducted

By Event M Linyando*

Caprivi  Concerned Group (CCG) successfully conducted a public seminar on historical facts about Caprivi, human rights and unity, on Sunday 03 July 2016 in Katima Mulilo. The event was well attended that chairs in the conference room were not enough and some people had to get all chairs from the adjacent restaurant. It was also graced by the attendance of a mixture senior citizens and women.

In his keynote presentation, the Secretary General of CCG, Mr. Edwin Samati explained how and why the German-Portuguese declaration of 1886 and the Anglo-German treaty of 1890 did not incorporate Caprivi Strip to German South West Africa (GSWA), and how the Namibian Constitution or laws fall short of jurisdiction in Caprivi Strip.

According to Samati, if the 1886 declaration meant Caprivi Strip was part of GSWA, it wouldn’t be necessary for the same GSWA to seek authority from Britain to use or access the same territory (strip) four years later in 1890. He further explained that the 1890 treaty was not intended to incorporate or cede the Strip to SWA as implied by the Governor, but to have access to Zambezi River or have the strip as a sphere of influence and corridor to travel to Tanganyika, not a colony.

In an effort to demonstrate that Namibia had and has no jurisdiction over the Caprivi Strip, Samati relied on the Britain’s Order in Council of 1891 which had jurisdiction in Caprivi Strip; the Court Decision of 1908 which stated that German had no jurisdiction in Caprivi Strip; and Proclamation 147 of 1939 which states that laws of SWA would not apply is Caprivi Strip unless declared so to apply, especially because the later is not yet repealed or is still in force today.

Refering to the Kasikili/Sedudu decision by the International Court of Justice of 1999 where the 1890 treaty failed to save Namibia; and the claim by Mr. T Tsheko in the Bechuanaland Protectorate Legislative Council that the strip belongs to Bechuanalnad who was supported by then future President of Botswana Dr. Quett Masire relying on historical and cultural facts, Samati argued that Botswana stands a better chance to claim sovereignty over the strip than Namibia.

However, he emphasized that CCG is not a secessionist movement or a political party, but a civil rights movement which aims to see a lasting peaceful solution over the Caprivi political dispute found through political dialogue between Government and the UDP leadership or a referendum, and the unconditional release of all Caprivi political prisoners.

The public meeting and arguments in the keynote presentation was in response to claims made by Government of Namibia in a Joint Press Statement issued by the Caprivi Regional Governor published on 27 June 2016 in New Era Newspaper, that the 1886 declaration and the 1890 treaty are the key legal instruments which demonstrate that Caprivi Strip is part of Namibia (formerly SWA). In this statement, Government also claimed that CCG is involved in secessionist activities and its leaders should therefore be dealt with. The Governor, Hon. Lawrence Sampofu also called on the public to “report secessionist activities” of this group so that “the law can take its course.”

The Secretary General of CCG used the event to comment on tribalism and stated that Caprivi Concerned Group as a civil rights organization does not see tribes in individuals and can never promote or condone tribalism. “A human rights activist can never be a tribalist because he sees all human beings as equal beings no matter what tribe or race they belong to” he said.

He called for unity among Caprivians, and accused SWAPO of causing and promoting tribalism not only because well-known tribalists are SWAPO members but also because the party or its government is failing to take action against its tribalistic members. “We believe that SWAPO has something to benefit from tribal divisions among Caprivians… As one cannot expect a vector to cure malaria, SWAPO as the causer can never solve the issue of tribalism. Only Caprivians themselves can resolve the issue of tribalism because they understand each other much better in the absence of a third person” he stressed.

He called on Caprivians to be actively involved in denouncing issues which directly or indirectly affect them such as tribalism, oppression and continued incarceration of Caprivians. “We have suffered a lot under this government, our family members are in refugee camps, prison or mass graves but we seem to be fine about it! God helps those who help themselves, we are the voices of those people and we are free to speak for them – it is our right”.

Given an opportunity to comment or ask questions, some members expressed appreciation of the presentation and the efforts of CCG in general. “I am very happy to see this number of people attending, and I feel what was presented here today have armed us. I call upon fellow Caprivians present here to be strong and share what they learnt here with us others who remained at home”, one attendant said.

One of those who couldn’t hide his happiness is a former Caprivi political prisoner, Mr. Joseph Kamwi who motivated those present by telling them how he was tortured, transported from Katima Mulilo to Grootfontein naked, and spending 16 years in prison “but you can see me, here I am, I am still alive…” He also informed the audience that Government of Namibia have given him and others notices of appeal, “we are still hunted and whenever you will hear that I am arrested, disappeared or killed it is because of the Caprivi issue. I still believe that Caprivi is not part of Namibia because we have evidence of that”, he said.

A number of those who spoke suggested that there should be a big public meeting in a sports field, and that CCG should consider changing the name to “Caprivi Human Rights Group”. CCG leadership promised to look into the suggestions.

*Event Mubita Linyando is the Secretary for Information and Publicity in Caprivi Concerned Group. He is a former member the Namibian Defence Force where he held a position of a Corporal in the Assault Engineering Department until he resigned from the force in 2005.