Chief Joseph Tembwe Mayuni of the Mashi Traditional Authority is urging government to make tribalism illegal in order to strengthen national unity.
Mayuni made the call on Sunday at the celebration of the 2017 Tulikonge cultural festival at Choi in the Zambezi region.
The Tulikonge cultural festival is an annual event where the Mafwe community celebrates its cultural heritage, to remind them of the pillars that build social cohesion, and the necessity for nation-building.
"Tribalism is a disease that threatens to destroy our nation and must be completely eradicated. I would like to reassure the government that my people, the Mafwe, do not entertain tribalism. The presence of my fellow traditional heads, of the Masubia and Mayeyi, at our cultural celebrations is a gesture of the cordial relations enjoyed between leaders. We, therefore, request the government to criminalise tribalism in order to support the current efforts of nation-building," he said.
Mayuni stressed that tribalism has still not been eradicated in the region and remained a political strategy of some locals.
"The socio-economic and political effects of tribalism manifest in the inequitable allocation of resources, poor social cohesion, political instability, corruption and poverty. Such unwarranted suffering of our people must be stopped by using all avenues available," he said.
Mayuni also expressed gratitude to the governments of Namibia and Botswana for their efforts to facilitate the return of Namibians who had become refugees by fleeing from Namibia since independence.
"I would also like to commend those who have made their return to Namibia, and encourage them to build their families and concentrate on the economic activities that will boost their livelihoods," he said.
Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu expressed similar sentiments at the festival, advising participants to reject all social evils which endanger the peace that Namibia enjoys.
"I call upon the leaders and residents of this region to refrain from tribalism, regionalism and corruption, which are diseases against development. Where there is peace and tranquility, investors will be interested to come and work with us to develop ourselves," he said.