Police recruitment for the Khomas region has drawn intense criticism of heavy tribal bias of 72 percent in favour of Oshiwambo-speaking Namibians – posing the potential danger of tribal exclusivity in the police force.
The list for cadet constables for Khomas, released last month, features 90 shortlisted names, of which 62 candidates (about 72 percent) appear to be Oshiwambo-speaking.
The tribal structure of the prospective recruits, displayed on the list at the National Police Headquarters in Windhoek, shows that about 28 percent of the candidates came from about eight other tribes in the country.
Several top police officials, who asked not to be named, warned in an interview that the skewed recruitment of police officers could tarnish the integrity of the police and should therefore be handled with caution.
“It is a genuine concern,” said one top cop. Oshiwambo-speaking people constitute about 51 percent of the country’s entire population, with some arguing that recruitment should take place based on a more proportional representation of the country’s ethnic groups.
However, Commissioner Nicholas Endjala — in charge of the police personnel division — has rubbished suggestions that the latest shortlist reflected tribalism.
He said the police force is balanced, based on regional representation, and not necessarily on tribal basis. “We will recruit 29 people from each region and that’s how we adhere to balancing representation for all in the (police) force,” Endjala said.
Asked how that system will apply to Khomas Region, which has integrated virtually all tribes as opposed to other twelve regions, Endjala said, “we can take the horse to the river but we cannot force it to drink,” implying that adverts were placed in the local media and his office only considered those who applied.
“We are running a competitive institution and candidates have to meet the requirement. If we align ourselves to recruiting on the basis of tribes as opposed to qualifications, the police force will not be competitive as we would like it to be,” Endjala said.
He maintained that tribal balancing of the police force only applies to formerly disadvantaged communities such as the Ovahimba and San people.
“In this case we can recruit some with Grade 10 qualifications, although standard requirement is that applicants must have Grade 12.”
Approached for comment, Commissioner of the Employment Equity Commission, Vilbard Usiku said there was little the Commission could do about tribal imbalances in the employment sector, as it is not within the provision of the EEC Act.
“We can intervene, but we can hardly do anything in terms of legally challenging such allegations because the law says nothing about tribal balances in the work place,” he said.
Usiku challenged lawmakers to consider amending to the country’s AA policy, to guard against recruitment along tribal lines.