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Banda tackles Barotseland issue
19 July 2011 Tuesday 04:52 AM Views: 2554 times


By Times Reporter

The Litunga Lubosi Imwiko II with President Rupiah Banda

President Rupiah Banda has assured the people of Western province that the government is dealing with the Barotseland issue.

The president, in a statement on the government’s position on the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, commended the Barotse National Council which has been engaging government over the matter for emphasising the fact that it is not secession from the rest of Zambia which is being advocated.

The president said this position by the council clearly shows that the Barotse Royal Establishment and the Barotse National Council are in favour of a unitary state of Zambia.

Mr Banda said following the presentation of the Barotse National Council resolutions to him in February, he immediately directed the secretary to the cabinet to constitute a team of senior Government officials to study the resolutions of the Barotse National Council so that in due course, the Government could adequately respond to these resolutions.

“I am happy to inform the nation that the team of Government officials has made good progress in its work. I expect the team to conclude its work in the near future,” he said.

The president said this in a statement released yesterday by his special assistant for Press and public relations Dickson Jere.

Mr Banda said in the history of the Government trying to resolve the issue of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, the Government had closely consulted the Barotse Royal Establishment and briefed the establishment on what actions it was currently undertaking to deal with the varied and complex issues covered by the resolutions of the Barotse National Council.

“In a nutshell, Government is actively dealing with the Barotseland issue. It is, therefore, my sincere hope that the people of Western Province and Zambia will appreciate the efforts that my Government is making on this matter,” he said.

President Banda said the Government acknowledged that the pleas for social and economic justice from the people of Western Province were genuine and needed its attention. Mr Banda emphasised that similar pleas and complaints had also been received and heard from other parts of the country.

He said the Government should be able to come up with a practical roadmap on how to resolve the issues raised by the Barotse National Council. He appealed to all the people of Western Province to give his Government a chance to resolve this very complex matter.

Mr Banda said dialogue with the Barotse Royal Establishment had continued even after the presentation of the resolutions for purposes of seeking clarity on various issues so that the matter was concluded in a manner that was realistic and satisfactory to all concerned parties.

Mr Banda said since the constitutional amendment of 1969, which revoked the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, various representations had been made to the Government to revisit the matter. He said representations were made during the tenure of office of former president Kenneth Kaunda, late president Frederick Chiluba, late president Levy Mwanawasa and more recently to himself.

He said all were aware that the issue of the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 had in the last few months received wide and intense public attention.

Regrettably, the president said the agitation for the restoration of the agreement culminated in ugly and violent civil disturbances that occurred in Mongu sometime in January this year.

Mr Banda said the Government had always been ready to receive and consider representations on all issues of national concern, including the issue of the Barotseland Agreement. Mr Banda said he was deeply troubled when some members of society resorted to unlawful behaviour:

“Further, it is unfortunate that in spite of what transpired early this year, some politicians have continued to take advantage and tried to hoodwink the people of Western Province into believing that this matter of the restoration of the Barotse Agreement of 1964 can be resolved overnight. This is unacceptable,” he said.

He said as a peaceful and united nation, citizens should never resort to civil unrest to resolve differences and that as a nation, dialogue should be used as a means of achieving consensus.

Mr Banda said in the spirit of engaging in meaningful dialogue, on 10th February 2011, he received a delegation from the Litunga, led by Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta.

Mr Banda said the delegation presented to him the resolutions of the Barotse National Council which met in January 2011 in Mongu to specifically discuss the issue of the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 and other matters incidental thereto.

He said the resolutions of the Barotse National Council were very detailed and comprehensive and raised a number of fundamental challenges that affected the people of Western Province.

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