Desperate Hustlers in Barotseland
By Martin Makweti
It is an inalienable fact that the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) currently plays a Prima Donna role in the future road map of Barotseland also known as Western Province of Zambia.
The future of Barotseland, whether as a Unitary state of the Republic of Zambia or as an Independent state will be bleak without serious and far-reaching changes in the role of the BRE per se.
The current Political Jihads taking place in the Arabic states are also manifesting themselves openly or subtly in what were previously absolute or inconspicuous African heritages like Swaziland and of course Barotseland.
Governance based on the twin principles of sacred kingship and rule by council must undergo forensic and systematic surgery if the rich cultural heritage of the Malozi is to be preserved for posterity.
The lack of a clear road map to the future of Barotseland leaves one agape, with awe and amusement about what is happening in the amphitheatre collectively known as Bulozi.
It is common knowledge that there is no tribe called Lozi or Nyanja and so people should seriously research their speeches before uttering words like the â€˜Nkoyas and the Lozis are at loggerheadsâ€™.
Malozi are a complex of about 32 ethnic groupings.
The current economic stagnation leading to poor health and high crime rate in Barotseland may be attributed to the need to tackle the (GDP).
G is for new and improved methods of Governance systems which will free the Royal establishment of the excessive powers they have over the land and its people. There is need to have an elected chamber that can effectively deal with the day to day civic and administrative matters and only seek royal approval in the event of matters that have a bearing a peopleâ€™s rights and liberties.
D is for Development which is currently lacking in the province due to among other things lack of clear entitlement to land which can be demarcated and certified to be used as collateral or security in running businesses.
P is Poverty which is an offshoot of poor Education, Health and meaningful employment.
With increasing populations worldwide, Land has become the second most common cause of conflict after Religion.
The series of revolutions in RUSSIA in 1917 were mainly around discontent by the peasants in lack of access to Land for farming as the Bourgeois had all the means of production.
This is not a clarion call for people to take up arms and scramble for land but the need to set up a lands tribunal within a new administrative setup to free up vast sums of idle land so people can cultivate freely without seasonal fears of repossessions from absentee landlords.
The biggest source of conflicts in Barotseland today is â€˜Mizeko Ya Mubuâ€™ Land Conflict followed by Cattle Rustling.
A resolute land policy would free agro resources while at the same time; it would create security in tenure of land: the offshoots would be the resultant increase in development of other Agricultural related occupations like cattle ranching and fish farming; thus reducing the levels of unemployment.
Idleness which fuels crime and other anti-social activities like Drug abuse and early childhood pregnancies is an offshoot of lack of meaningful occupations.
The author is alive to the fact that some diehard Traditionalists and Royalists will have a field day tearing into this article; citing taboos (Mwila) and lack of respect for the establishment as a safeguard measure to avoid opening up discussions on modernisation.
The emergence of some quarters in the Barotse society declaring their quest to unequivocally represent all Malozi in their aspiration for possible self-rule and determination is mainly due to lack of a structured forum for people to air their views freely without hindrance from some quarters including the Zambian government.
Some of the pronouncements made by these groupings cannot pass without challenge; least the dreamers of these illusions of grandiose proportions start to actually believe in their schemes and mechanisations.
There have been several media pronouncements by some groups stating their concept of how a Self-ruled Barotseland would be governed with administrative positions already shared amongst themselves and a system of governance imposed by their decrees.
Other proponents of self-rule who have taken a different route have been cajoled, castigated and sometimes threatened with prospects of facing treasonable charges in a self-ruled Barotseland.
When the African National Congress in South Africa was formed in 1912, Africans had to find new ways of fighting for their land and freedom. In 1911, Pixley ka Isaka Seme called on Africans to forget the differences of the past and unite in one national organisation. He said: “We are one people. These divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today.”
This culminated in the involvement of Chiefs, representatives of people`s and Church organisations, and other prominent individuals in eventually forming a United Democratic Front to defend the rights and freedoms of the oppressed people.
If there are any thorny issues to iron out with other organisations in Barotseland, then is it not best to sit down and discuss the way forward rather than rush to the newly designed websites castigating other peopleâ€™s opinions?
Claiming sole representation of the people without a legal mandate and using a pendulum style to oscillate the role of the BRE in this debacle is playing double standards.
Evidently, it was only recently that the same people were in the forefront in trying to storm the Litungaâ€™s residence in Limulunga when they did not agree with their perceived relationship of the BRE and the then MMD government.
Subsequently, the pendulum swung the other way to ululate the role of the Litunga and the BRE on choice of a versatile Sope who like the biblical Moses was holding the wand to ward off the Lyambai to the new Promised Land.
When the Ngambela was relieved of his duties, back swung the oscillating pendulum with venom spitting at the establishment including the Litunga.
Now are these coin ‘tossers’ who dictate by â€˜Heads or Tailsâ€™ going to be the sole representatives of the people simply because they have created and published an imaginary future constitution for Barotseland which has no mandate whatsoever from any section of our society?
Has anyone been to my remote village in Kalabo to find out from those wise men, Women and the youth about their aspirations of a future Barotseland?
Have the Malozi in the Diaspora been consulted and engaged in these consultations?
The answer is obviously NO!
The current Constitution making process in Zambia is another issue that has raised great polarity about the way forward for Barotseland as some people have advocated for total abstain of this process stating that it is irrelevant to the future of Barotseland.
On the other hand, other people are of the opinion that the way forward would be to fully contribute to the new constitution and make an entry that recognised the role of the BA 1964 in Zambia attaining its Independence from Britain and thus give the Mulonga the earlier administrative powers curtailed by Kaundaâ€™s government.
There is also a centre opinion about modernising the Mulonga as some people feel that too much power in the hands of a privileged clique is a recipe for discord and dissent as there is an inequitable distribution of power and wealth just as land ownership was the main reason there was a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917.
We can also not ignore the multitude of people who believe that if meaningful development was brought into Barotseland, it would quell the call for separation. There is indeed a lack of meaningful employment for the army of youth busy loitering and engaging in various antisocial activities.
Why was the Barotse issue quiet during the Mwanawasa era?
I must contend that it was because of the short lived developmental projects like the High School in Libonda Palace which had pacified the people.
Similarly, The Zambian government in general has to look at the pros and cons of some of the best constitutions in Africa like the South African one and obtain what is good and relevant to it. It would also help to look at the good points in the last absolute monarch in Africa (Swaziland) and derive what is relevant from it.
The UK is another area where systems of governance may be obtained, as it has arguably the most successful constitution in the world despite the union not having any WRITTEN instrument of governance.
A combination of an apolitical Monarchy system, Bi-cameral (Dual Chamber), namely House of Lords and House of Commons, an elaborate legal system coupled with the use of strict and resolute Codes of Conduct and Codes of practices and Acts of Parliament are what makes this nation (UK) to prosper in an almost seamless fashion.
The challenges in this great nation of Barotseland are many and we should be directing our efforts in looking at effective lasting solutions now rather than burying our heads in sand like the proverbial Ostrich.
Some contentious issues that need a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle are:
â€¢ Dealing with the main cause of poverty and underdevelopment in the area and most people have identified a lack of a system of a secure and long term ownership of land as a major factor
â€¢ Seeking the support, involvement and giving safeguards to other groups which may fear exchanging one master for another. Mangosuthu Buthelezi of the Inkatha freedom party is one such example who had no trust in joining the ANC fearing that his people would be swallowed up and become nonentity in a post-apartheid South Africa.
â€¢ Modernising our governance system with focus on maintaining a monarchy free from political involvement and interference as pronouncements pertaining to the retention of an 1884 mode of governance is extremely archaic
â€¢ Ensuring that our History and Civics syllabus include the BA 1964 (Not just the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland)
â€¢ Consider reverting to the Name Barotseland in place of the current Western province
The die was cast when one Sir Mwanawina, a veteran of the Second World War: thus his knighthood was persuaded, or cajoled into signing away his nation into what some refer to as servitude.
There is speculation that some sons and daughters of Barotseland were used as Trojan horses; thus enabling Kaunda to walk into Lealui and subjugate the then leadership into submission.
If there is any credence to this, then be warned that there shall come a day when your paymasters will threaten to release your dossiers in the event of you being overcome by a Judas conscience and wanting to make amends by attempting to switch your alliances.
That can only be speculated. But as for the present, it can certainly be articulated.
Making sweeping statements like â€˜Politicians will not be given a platform in the new Barotselandâ€™ is not only cowardly and myopic, but it also exposes a lack of clear knowledge of modern systems of governance.
Some of our Indunas are past politicians and likewise, some of our politicians are either current or past Indunas; so where do we draw the line?
Given the current temperamental dispositions of the people advocating that they have in place a transitional constitution for Barotseland; can one really believe that in the unfortunate incidence of them ascending to power, they would go back and make popular changes?
They have for instance, categorically stated in their provisional constitution that â€˜No dual citizenship will be allowed in Barotselandâ€™. Are we really living on one planet or some people are visiting aliens?
Whichever side of the coin one may look at the history of Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland, it is so intertwined that it would be a herculean task to define and confine the offspring of intermarriages and also to relocate investment and occupational links.
During the presidential campaign, Zambian president Michael Sata is on record as having said the following at the Blue Gum rally in Mungu on 21/05/11 â€˜We shall restore the Barotseland agreement within 90 days of being in powerâ€™. After getting into plot 1, varying conflicting statements have been made to the extent of saying, â€˜Barotseland had no previous special status in the Union of Zambiaâ€™.
In conclusion, anyone who will stand on the mountain to promise the people any freedom should be asked to sign a social contract binding them to their promise. Otherwise a people will forever be at the mercy of political mercenaries, masquerading as saviours in their quest and desperation to get even just one precious vote which can make a difference between being a perpetual political loser; or walking tall on the State House lawns, even without any remorse at all at the pack of lies told to the unsuspecting and trusting electorate.
NAKO KIYONA KONO LUNANI LINONGE BAKWETU
MARTIN NUNDALILE MAKWETI
ALUYI BASED IN LONDON, UK