THE Barotse Royal Establishment says its silence should not be taken for granted. A press statement by the BRE signed by acting Ngambela (prime minister) Moowa Zambwe indicated that the Saa-Sikalo Kuta (the Ngambela’s Kuta), deliberated on policy matters affecting Barotseland (Western Province), its traditional governance system and structures.
Zambwe spelt out some of the issues that emerged after the deliberations. He stated that divisions that were emerging in “our traditional governance system” were being fuelled by the government and politicians outside government.
“This state of affairs is of grave concern to the people of Barotseland,” Zambwe stated.
He added that the BRE was aware that some people were sponsored to masquerade as chiefs and that “surprisingly enough” government officials and politicians embraced such “illegal self-imposed chiefs by paying courtesy calls on them.”
“Chiefs in Barotseland, unlike elsewhere in Zambia, are installed by His Majesty the Litunga from time immemorial and they hold office by strictly following our diverse traditions and customs of all the 38 ethnic groups and where any given chief ceases to hold office under our customary law…” Zambwe stated.
“The Barotse Royal Establishment is unhappy with the new Constitution Chapter One Article 165 of the Laws of Zambia, [which] by implication contradicts the chiefs’ Act, which recognises the Litunga’s authority over chieftaincy. We urge government to repeal this diabolic article targeted against the people of Barotseland.”
Zambwe stated that while the BRE has had a good relationship with the central government and “enjoyed their respect”, the current general feeling of “our people” was that Barotseland had been sidelined by the government.
He complained that some developmental projects in Barotseland stalled as far back as 2011.
“The stalling of developmental projects in Barotseland is deliberate as confirmed by utterances by some government ministers and officials that Barotseland will not receive a fair share of development because our people did not vote [for] the PF party in the general elections,” Zambwe stated.
“Mongu-Limulunga road is the main link between the royal palace and all districts in Barotseland. The bad state of this road is a big obstacle in terms of communication. BRE has lobbied government to work on the road year in and year out, but our request has not received favourable response. This has become the source of worry for the people.”
And Zambwe stated that the BRE was aware of some people who were fuelling ethnic tension, especially in Mongu, Kaoma and Lukulu “with some calling for sub-division of Barotseland.”
“We call upon such misguided people to desist from such acts. The people of Barotseland have lived together in harmony for centuries. BRE’s silence should not be taken for granted,” warned Zambwe.
“The BRE urges government to address the raised pertinent issues in order to foster peace and harmony in our country and to solidify the existing cordial relations between [the] central government and the BRE for the benefit of our people.”