4 January 2013

Namibia: Isaack Falls in Tribal 'Trap'

A Deputy Minister accused of unleashing a tribal tirade against police officers may face criminal charges either under the Racial Discrimination Act or the Common Law crime of crimen injuria, according to the police.

The Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, Willem Isaack, allegedly shouted at the officers by referring to what he believed to be their tribal origin and that he did not care about the "Swapo Owambo government". The alleged incident, confirmed by the police but denied by the politician, took place at Berseba on New Year's Day during a planned tribal meeting of a /Hai/Khaua Traditional Authority splinter group called the Goliath Traditional Authority.

Members of the police were invited by the splinter group for protection at the meeting that was dubbed an "eat-together" to sidestep a High Court order by a rival group. During the past year tribalism has flared up, especially among Swapo politicians, with the prominent one being former Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Kazenambo Kazenambo, who was fired last month after he allegedly attacked other Cabinet ministers, calling them "stupid Wambos" during an interview with a local journalist.

Unconfirmed reports allege that a lawmaker allegedly directed tribal remarks at Prime Minister Hage Geingob during Swapo's Congress last month. The National Council member, whose name cannot be mentioned at this stage, apparently referred to Geingob as a "kwankara", saying that the country cannot be ruled by him.

However, no steps appeared have been taken against him as is the case with Isaack.

"I can confirm that the Police is investigating what the Deputy Minister said during the come-together at Berseba on New Year's Day. My office received a report that Isaack subjected a police chief inspector and an inspector from the Karas regional office to a tribal verbal attack in the presence of junior members of the force and the public. After the investigation is completed a decision will be taken if necessary. We are, however, not aware of any tribal remarks made by a lawmaker at the Swapo Congress and no report in that regard has reached my office," Acting Inspector-General of Nampol, Major-General Vilho Nghifindaka, told The Namibian.

One of the organisers of the so-called eat-together, which was attended by less than 100 people, Moses Cohlman, on two occasions on the Damara/Nama service of the NBC announced the holding of the meeting on New Year's Day where feedback would have been given to supporters of the /Hai/Khaua Traditional Authority splinter group on progress been made for recognition and the way forward.

This prompted the /Hai/Khaua Traditional Authority under Kaptein Johannes Isaack to inform the Police about the meeting and that the High Court in October last year has barred the Goliath group from holding any public event under the auspices of being a traditional authority.

About two days before the planned meeting members of the splinter group approached the police and informed them that they would have an eat-together and with the growing tension between them and the /Hai/Khaua Traditional Authority asked for their protection during the meal.

Members of the task force and senior police officers attended the occasion but when the Deputy Minister saw them talking to Cohlman he allegedly unleashed the tribal tirade against them.

The deputy minister allegedly questioned the presence of the "Owambo" who were supposed to be in Owamboland and made them aware that he is a "Nama minister".

Speaking to The Namibian the Deputy Minister denied that he made any tribal remarks, saying that he does not know where the police got that information.

Isaack, who will be in office again on January 20 confirmed that he was not approached by the Police yet.

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