Starving opposition is ‘ethnic cleansing’

Strong suggestions made by ruling party officials to ‘frustrate’ development in opposition-controlled areas would be a gross human rights violation, some say.

01 December 2020 | Politics

STAFF REPORTER







WINDHOEK

Threats by some Swapo leaders to frustrate and withhold funding from opposition parties that have won control of regional and local authority councils would be tantamount to ethnic cleansing, Landless People’s Movement (LPM) deputy leader Henny Seibeb said yesterday.

Seibeb’s LPM won all but one constituency in the Hardap Region, predominantly inhabited by the Nama ethnic group.

The results of the Mariental Rural constituency are still pending following a dispute, but LPM is expected to win that too – giving the party 100% control of Hardap’s constituencies.

In //Karas, also a predominantly Nama area, LPM has won five out of seven constituencies.

Swapo bragging

During the campaign period, some Swapo leaders bragged that the ruling party controls state funds and hinted at frustrating opposition parties in delivering services to the constituencies they are in charge of.

Last week, Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary for education, Hofni Ipinge, said on social media that the Swapo government will ‘frustrate’ the opposition Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), which has won three constituencies in Erongo as well as key local authorities in that region, namely Walvis Bay Rural, Walvis Bay Urban and Swakopmund.

“IPC will see where to get the money for development for four years. Councillors [have] no budget. We will frustrate them, keep watching,” he said in a Facebook post that went viral and has drawn condemnation even in Swapo circles.

Seibeb said if the LPM is starved of funding to develop the southern regions - where a particular tribe predominantly lives - this would amount to ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Civil war may loom

He warned that any such deliberate political decisions may lead to a civil war.

“We are not going to sit back and watch Swapo withholding development just because an opposition has won in a particular area.

“In fact, we are already busy setting up meetings with the ministry of finance to look at capital projects identified in areas where we are governing.

“For a long time, development budgets for northern local authorities such as Oshakati have been generally higher than those in the south like Keetmanshoop. This has to stop.”

Seibeb said the LPM will approach the local United Nations office in Windhoek if Swapo deliberately withholds funding in areas controlled by the opposition.

“It’s tantamount to ethnic cleansing like the one against the Rohingya in Myanmar and other places,” Seibeb said.

‘Don’t even dare’

“People are not stupid. If Swapo frustrates them on purpose, they’ll see it. And they will punish Swapo even more when the next election comes, so Swapo must not even dare.”

The ruling party, which has been embroiled in allegations of corruption and losing track of its promise to the people, has lost more than 30 of the 121 constituencies, compared to only nine it missed out on in 2015.

Swapo also failed to gain majority seats on over 30 of the 57 local authority councils across the country.

Last year, the party lost its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly after an election held on the same day the so-called Fishrot bribery scandal emerged, which saw two ministers resigning and being arrested.

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