Barotseland: Catholic Priest Calls for Liberation of Recently Arrested Barotse Activists
Rev. Fr Chanakila Muyunda, who is based in Rome but lived in the region for 35 years, has called on the Zambian Government to free the Barotse activists currently in detention, including Afumba Mombotwa, leader of the Linyungandambo liberation movement, who was arrested with two associates a few days ago. Rev Muyunda believes that the government must finally implement the measures suggested by the Church, which include finding a peaceful solution and embracing a spirit of dialogue. He asserts that the arrest of dissident leaders only instils the desire for revenge, and entrenches the different parties’ positions.
Photo courtesy of WorldFish@flickr
To know more about the arrest of Mr Afumba Mombotwa, please read our previous article.
As a concerned citizen and servant of God I call upon the Zambian Government through the acting President Dr. Guy Scott to immediately release Mr. Afumba Mombotwa, Mr. Likando Pelekelo, Mr. Kalima, Mr. Boris Muziba, Mr. Nayoto Mwenda, and Mr. Sikwebele Wasilota.
Remember and do not forget the advice that the Catholic Bishops did give to the nation clearly, they had advised that the “unrest in the western province was caused by a perception that the province is marginalized in matters of development,” this am convinced of having lived there for 35yrs. The Catholic Bishops went further to state that the people of Barotseland were questioning how Zambia was being governed socio-economically and politically.
The issues of Barotseland can only be solved through honesty dialogue between the parties concerned as recommended by the National Convention on the drafting of the New Constitution and also in the pastoral letter of 2012 and solidarity statement of ZEC in February 2011. To solve the issue of Barotseland Agreement, the government must quickly remember the advise they were given by the Church and put it into practice. The Church had advised the government to do five things, namely:
1) Release the Rodger Chongwe Commission Report,
2) Work out an amicable solution towards a clearly spelt out strategy of addressing the issue once and for all,
3) That the parties involved (The Government, The people of Western province, The Barotse Royal Establishment, and the organised activist group) must embrace the spirit of dialogue by coming together to find a lasting solution,
4) Other Stake holders should be involved in this process,
5) Stake holders to demonstrate their commitment to peace by refraining from violence, intimidation, or use of force as a means of achieving their objectives.
I strongly believe that arresting and imprisoning people on this issue creates an infinite cycle of hatred, violence, desire for revenge and apathy towards the development of the people. The arrests just harden hearts and make all stake holders harden their positions. At the end of it all, there is no winner as correctly stated by the Church. Enough blood has been spelt already on this issue, and memories of it feel the people of God with tears, no one single group wants this cycle to continue and we need our leadership to step up and provide a lasting solution.
Zambia is not the only Nation in the World where such calls of “Self Determination” are heard. We have an example of Quebec in Canada, Scotland in United Kingdom, and Catalonia in Spain, etc. We can learn with great humility from these Nations. Despite the fact that they have the best military hardware, the best air force, the best well trained special forces, and the best well trained and equipped police force, they have not used force to suppress the calls, that’s what true leadership is! True leadership entails courage to enter into fruitful dialogue whatever issue arises.
At the heart of it all, we should all know that we are brothers and sisters. We need to love each other because we are one people created in the image of God. Let Love lead! Let us exercise good judgement. Let us behave in a responsible way so that each of us can effectively contribute positively to this process. What we all want is development and peace. We all have to ask ourselves the question: What can I do to bring about peace, healing, reconciliation, and respect of the rights of others? Dr. Guy Scott can initiate this process which will be completed by whoever wins the presidential elections. I wish this could be done before Christmas Day.
I invite my fellow Christians to pray with me for our leaders.