Sep 16, 2014

Barotseland: Independence Will Require Effort, Remains Best Solution

Photo: United Nations Photo@flickr

The writer, Saleya Kwalombota, has once again tackled the question of Barotseland independence. According to the writer, it is up to the people of Barotseland to give their loyalty to the civil transitional Government. Independence may not solve ongoing injustices overnight, but only the people of Barotseland can self-determine their future, make responsible choices on how to use their land,  strive towards a higher standard of living and an increased international profile.

Below is an article posted by the Zambian Watchdog:

The issue is not whether Barotseland is wealthy enough to be independent, but as a result of broken marriage with Zambia and have realized our alienation right to self-determination – caused by the abrogation of union treaty BA’64 by Zambia – constituents of the fundamental rights under UN charter of world peace and cooperation.

How will Barotseland become independent?

Barotseland will become independent if the people of Barotseland remain steadfast, united and align themselves with the independence declaration resolutions of 2012. It is up to the people of Barotseland to empower our civil transitional government by shifting their loyalty from the occupying force to our government and demand Zambia to leave our country through peaceful demonstrations within and outside Barotseland. It is not easy to win sympathy or support from the international community with a peaceful reluctant approach. Britain should be summoned not to ignore the independence demand of Barotseland as it was the third party and initiator for the defunct BA’64. The arrangements for the transition to an independent Barotseland based on our 27 March 2012 BNC resolutions should be adhered to, as this represents the wishes of the people.

What is the benefit of independence?

We believe independence is the right choice for Barotseland because it is better for Barotzish if decisions about Barotseland are taken by the people who care most about Barotseland who live and work there. Independence means that the decisions about Barotseland that are currently taken by the government of Zambia (whose decisions do not mean well for the territory) will be taken in Barotseland instead. The ability for a Barotseland government to take such decisions in Barotseland will have a positive impact on people’s welfare. With independence, Barotseland’s Parliament (Katengo legislature) will be able to make sure that Barotseland’s wealth works better for the people and will bring to a better quality of life for people in Barotseland. There is already good evidence that taking decisions in Barotseland works, as some of you who had the privilege to attend the 2012 BNC meeting will agree, through the mature debate exhibited by various groups and people there.

It is also because Zambia’s central government makes decisions for Barotseland (under the Western province slavery name) and collects taxes that go towards the development of provinces considered to be Zambian. Not one of such discriminatory decisions has been supported by the majority of people or politicians in Barotseland. If powers are transferred to Barotseland, we will have a guarantee that – for the first time – decisions about taxes, social security, infrastructure, mining and other key areas that affect life in Barotseland will only be taken with the approval of the Katengo, elected entirely by people in Barotseland. The ability to build a fairer and more prosperous Barotseland will be in the hands of the people of Barotseland.

How would an independent Barotseland use tax powers?

With independence we can invest in oil mining and some oil revenues in a fund to benefit future generations. We can make big savings and spend money in a way that will benefit people in Barotseland more. The current Transitional Government has set out some of the priorities for using the powers and resources that independence will bring. We would spend money to make life easier for families, by expanding childcare and making it affordable for ordinary families. We would ease the pressure on household finances by using savings to reduce energy bills. With independence, we can tailor an economic policy to suit our needs – a policy that puts jobs first. The people of Barotseland have a plan to re-industrialise the Barotseland economy during the 21st century and to build on our strengths in engineering, renewable energy and green. An independent Barotseland will have a significantly increased international profile. With independence, we can ensure the national minimum wage never falls behind the cost of living.

In summary:

I believe that Barotseland can and should be an independent country.

I believe that no-one else will make a better job of running Barotseland country than the people who live and work there.

I believe that it is important for Barotseland to have the government of its choice at each and every election.

I believe that matching the resources of our country to the talents of our people will create a new prosperity in Barotseland.

I believe that, with independence, we can share this wealth fairly.

I believe that the people of Barotseland are more than capable of making a success of an independent Barotseland.

Independence won’t solve this overnight – but it will give us the powers we need to tackle it. Only independence guarantees that the major decisions about Barotseland are made in Barotseland according to the wishes of the people of Barotseland.

We won’t get every decision right. Just as in every other independent country, there will be challenges. But no-one else will do a better job of running our country than people in Barotseland – because no-one else has a bigger stake in its success. And, of course, after independence, Barotseland and Zambia will continue to co-operate in many areas.

Litunga Ni lyetu,

By Saleya Kwalombota