It can’t be denied, there’s a region of our country called Barotseland – M’membe
By Fanny Kalonda(The Mast)
SOCIALIST Party president Fred M’membe has cautioned that the Barotseland issue will not be put to rest by arrogance as it is anchored on legitimate grievances.
And Dr M’membe says his party will sign a statutory instrument to restore the name Barotseland when elected into office.
“We would like to caution that the issue of Barotseland will not be put to rest by arrogance, intimidation or threats because it’s anchored on legitimate grievances. We advise Mr Hichilema to mull over things and consider the grievances coming out of Barotseland in a more calmer, rational, and mature manner. Threats and intimidation won’t do,” Dr M’membe said in a statement. “On day [one] or two of the Socialist Party government, a statutory instrument will be signed to restore the name Barotseland. The Socialist Party will localise governance to give all the regions of our country far more beyond what is in those eight pages of the Barotse Agreement of 1964. Yes, Mr Hakainde Hichilema is right: there is only one unitary state, one country called Zambia. But within Zambia, there are many regions that came together to form this one Zambia, one nation. And by coming together, these regions of our country did not completely give up their identity and their history. Our people were not always Zambians. They became Zambians in 1964. It cannot be denied that there is a region of our country called Barotseland. In the same way, in the United Kingdom, there are regions called Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland occupied by the Scots, Welsh, English, and Irish people respectively and to large extent governed by them.”
He wondered why President Hichilema was finding the name Barotseland offensive.
“The change of the name Barotseland to Western Province was effected in 1968 without consultation with the people of Barotseland. It was a unilateral executive decision. There is no person who can name another person’s child without consent or consultation with that person. There is no person who is genuinely offended in this country or harmed by the people of Western Province calling their region Barotseland. In fact, it was interesting to note that when the Litunga went to attend Ukusefya pa ng’wena traditional ceremony in Northern Province, a Bemba region, all who spoke at that ceremony referred to him as the Litunga, the King of Barotseland,” he explained. “The Bembas present at that ceremony, including Mwinelubemba, the Chitimukulu himself, seemed comfortable and not offended by the name Barotseland. Why should Mr Hichilema be troubled by the name Barotseland? Why is he finding the name offensive to him? What is his problem with the name Barotseland? As a party, we think we have made enough consultations over the name Barotseland with people from this region. All the people we have consulted want to revert back to the name Barotseland. On day [one] or two of the Socialist Party government, a statutory instrument will be signed to restore the name Barotseland.”
Dr M’membe noted that the system of governance that has been pursued since 1968 has brought nothing but shame on the people of Barotseland, citing poverty levels.
“Today, Barotseland or rather Western Province as they are happy to call it is the second poorest region of our country, enduring poverty levels of 78.6 per cent. It is only surpassed by Muchinga Province, which is leading the country in poverty, with poverty levels of 82.6 per cent. In the third position is Northern Province with 78 per cent poverty. In the fourth position, it’s Luapula Province with 77.3 per cent. And in the fifth position is Eastern Province with poverty levels of 76.4 per cent,” he said. “It is very clear that this system of governance that we have been pursuing since 1968 has brought nothing but shame on the people of Barotseland. These very high levels of poverty bring nothing but shame and disgrace to a people and their legitimate or authentic leaders. There is no doubt that the authentic leaders of the people of Barotseland are the Litunga, his Ngambela, and the entire Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE). But as things stand today, these authentic leaders of the people of Barotseland are helpless. They have no power to take their people out of poverty, out of disgrace, out of this shameful existence of being among the poorest people in Zambia.”
He said politicians have failed the people for 59 years.
“We have no doubt that until the authentic leaders of the people of Barotseland take the lead and allow their people to govern themselves in a meaningful way, this shameful existence of poverty, despair, and loss of self-esteem will not end. And if it will not end, the people of Barotseland will resist it. They will struggle for a more fair, more just, and more humane dispensation,” said Dr M’membe. “For the people of Barotseland and all the people of Zambia, there is no sensible alternative to localising governance and to the politicians sharing power with their traditional and religious leaders in an equitable and acceptable manner. The politicians in Lusaka alone have failed our people for 59 years and cannot be left to run this country alone. If we fail to give our people such a dispensation, the displeasure we are hearing from Barotseland will spread to all the parts of our country tomorrow. Today, it’s the people of Barotseland. Tomorrow, it will be the people of Lubemba. The next day, it will be the people of Kumawa, and so on and so forth.”