(By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone)
A NATIONAL Monument for the historic visit to the Zambezi Boat Club by King Lubosi Lewanika of the Lozi speaking people with his son Litia to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Connaught is in a depraved state and on the verge of falling into the river.
A visit to the Zambezi Boat Club in Livingstone by The Mast revealed the monument needs urgent repair.
Government has been under attack over the K370,000 the Bank of Zambia spent to rehabilitate the Kabwe Fig tree, which is on the K50 note.
UNZA’s development studies lecturer Dr Charity Musamba asked the government to publicise the expenditure outline for the tree in Kabwe.
Dr Musamba said the country was informed that the expenditure for renovating the fig tree so that it meets the heritage standards of conservation was over K300,000.
Locally known as Mukuyu, the tree is located at Kabwe’s Freedom Way Square and attracts a number of visitors who take shelter under its massive canopy.
The Bank of Zambia in partnership with the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) funded the rehabilitation of the national monument in Kabwe.
However, the cost of rehabilitation has sparked consternation among members of the public, especially on social media, who argue that there was no economic justification to ‘fund’ a tree when many homes, even in Kabwe itself, were inundated by hunger.
Contrary to the Kabwe monument, the monument in Livingstone inscribed with GR I in Livingstone is on the verge of collapsing and plunging into the Zambezi River.
The Boat Club building is one of the many National Monuments in Livingstone and draws much of its history from the British Royal visit
and also the famous Rowing Regatta, a water sport that was introduced in 1905 at the site.
In 1910, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught visited South Africa to open the first session of the Union Parliament and then proceeded on a tour
of Southern and Northern Rhodesia.
“The Litunga Lubosi Lewanika and other Barotse royalty travelled to Livingstone for the occasion and were accommodated in town. Lewanika arranged an exhibition and demonstration of traditional Lozi crafts in the Barotse Centre (now Mukuni Park), of which he took the visitors on a conducted tour,” NHCC historical documents reveal.
Several Zambezi Boat Club members under the leadership of a prominent lawyer, John Kapepe, have revealed that letters have been written to
NHCC with regards the poor state of the national monument.
However, NHCC South West senior conservation officer Richard Mbewe said an assessment of the costs for the repair of the monument, which he did not disclose, have been done and sent to Lusaka.
“We hope the funds will be released before January so that we can rehabilitate the monument. It is true that it may fall into the Zambezi River but we hope to carry out the repairs before it does so. We will push for the funds and our conservation team is going to Lusaka this week, so we will push,” said Mbewe.