Namibia Facts
Area:    825,418 sq. km.
Capital:    Windhoek
Total Population:    1,600,000 (source: unknown, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

The Caprivians have several of the factors that increase the likelihood of future rebellion: 1) territorial concentration; 2) recent government repression; and 3) lack of support by the government or transnational groups for reform. However, there are other factors that favor the containment of rebellion: 1) Namibia is a stable democracy; 2) the group is not very well organized or mobilized; and 3) past protest has been fairly limited. Although the group does not encounter significant political or cultural restrictions often associated with protest, repression against the group might contribute to future group protest.

Analytic Summary

The East Caprivians are concentrated on the Caprivi Strip, a narrow piece of land that juts out of Namibia into Zambia and is bordered by Angola on the north and Botswana on the south (GROUPCON = 3). The East Caprivians are comprised of three ethnic groups: Mafwe, Subiya and Mayeye, all of which are sub-groups of the Lozi (Barotse) who are located mainly in Zambia. The Caprivians speak multiple languages and have social customs distinct from that of other groups in Namibia (LANG = 2, CUSTOM = 1).

In 1998, a secessionist movement developed amongst the group, led by Mishake Muyongo and Chief Boniface Mamili. The impetus for secession was a promise supposedly made by Sam Nujoma, the leader of SWAPO, to Muyongo during the years of their alliance from 1964 to 1980. Years after the alliance was over, Muyongo claimed that Nujoma had promised independence for Caprivi when Namibia gained independence from South Africa. When Namibia gained independence in 1990, this did not come to fruition, and Nujoma has denied ever making such a promise.

The group faces significant political and economic discrimination and disadvantages (ECDIFXX = 4 POLDIFXX = 2). The Namibian government has not implemented remedial policies in favor of East Caprivians. The group also faces demographic and ecological disadvantages, including poor public health conditions and migration (DMSICK = 2). Spillover of the UNITA conflict in Angola had caused environmental decline and loss of jobs. There is a fairly heavy military presence in the area. In 2001-2003, there were reports of moderate levels of repressive activity. As a result of harassment by both Namibian and Angolan forces, group members have been dispossessed from their land. In 2002, about 200 refugees who had earlier fled to Botswana returned to Namibia under a UN program. The group faces high rates of HIV/AIDS; it is unclear if the rates of infection are higher than for the rest of the country.

Some Caprivians have demanded independence from Namibia; however, it is unclear how many group members actually support this. Most Caprivians seem to be more concerned with greater economic opportunities, greater political rights within their community and equal civil rights. Protection of group culture and customs is also an issue.

Grievances are mainly expressed through conventional political channels with the exception of the secessionist Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) (GOJPA03 = 3). Conventional parties that represent the group include the United Democratic Party and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). The DTA is a prominent opposition party comprised of many neglected ethnic groups including Caprivians. It is not clear how many Caprivians support any of these groups, especially the Caprivi Liberation Army.

There is no conflict between Caprivians and other ethnic groups in Namibia ; however, there is a high level of animus between the Caprivians and the Namibian government. The Caprivi Liberation Army appeared on the scene in 1998. When it did, the military targeted suspected rebel camps for destruction, massacred suspected rebels and engaged in high levels of repressive activity. The leaders of the CLA fled to Botswana and then to Denmark. Since then, repression seems to have declined but there is still a heavy military presence in the area and reports of arrests, torture, and execution.


African Research Bulletin. 1980-1994. Published Monthly.

Europa. 1995. Africa South of the Sahara.

Gordon, Robert J. 1992. The Bushman Myth-The Making of a Namibian Underclass. Boulder:Westview Press.

Hitchcock, Robert K. 1994?. Grassroots Political Organizing Among the Kalahari Bushmen.

Leys, Colin and John S. Saul. 1995. Namibia=s Liberation Struggle: The Two-Edged Sword. Athens: Ohio University Press.

Schoeman, Elna. 1982. The Namibian Issue 1920-1980: A Select and Annotated Bibliography.

Various Lexis/Nexis reports from BBC, Reuters, etc.


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