OPPOSITION ALLIANCE PRESS STATEMENT
ON BAROTSE ISSUE AND MARSHALL PLAN FOR LEAST DEVELOPED PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
As a country we are deeply divided. Post-independence our nationalist leaders tried to unite us but the divisions persisted for example the deep rivalry between ANC and UNIP, UNIP and UPP. However, we coined unto ourselves the motto of one Zambia one Nation.
We are, currently, very divided not only politically but even the church, as moral pillars of our society, is seen to be divided. It is worth noting that poverty and depravation has deepened our divisions.
Those in power are the ones deciding who gets what, where and how, to the exclusion of the larger majority. Poverty has now become endemic, take for instance, when the government drops 3 bags of fertilizer in a village to a so-called cooperative of 30, that is exclusion. Our people are excluded from the national cake.
As an Alliance of Political Parties, it is our belief that the deep divisions caused by exclusion, poverty and deprivation have to be immediately addressed by all of us, not by sending fighter jets over people’s heads or battalions of armed young men and women to Barotseland.
We don’t want the Chinsali occurrence to ever rear its ugly head again in any part of the country. We lost enough brothers and sisters in Chinsali and who are still internally and externally displaced. Recently we lost our young men and women in Mongu and some are still incarcerated in Barotseland over an issue that can easily be resolved around a table. This should never happen again, certainly not under our watch.
As a country, we are a beacon of peace and stability in the region, Africa and the world. The conduct of this current government is threatening the peace and security of our nation, especially the pronouncement of President Hakainde Hichilema that there’s no Barotseland.
The Northern Ireland conflict in which a lot of lives were lost ended in a Good Friday Agreement at the table. The brutal war in Angola ended at Mulungushi International Conference Center here in Lusaka Zambia at the table.
As Alliance Political Parties, we are calling for dialogue not only on the Barotse question but on the endemic poverty and deep national divisions that have caused stagnation in our quest for development.
To kick start the development agenda, the country is in dire need of a marshal plan especially for the most under developed provinces.
Nationwide, peoples and regions are feeling marginalized and left behind in the development agenda and in having access to social amenities and employment.
As Opposition Alliance we are saying that the country is in dire need of a Province specific “Marshal Development Plan” to address glaring poverty and hunger.
As a nation, let us not underestimate the cries for development from the provinces and from voices such as the Cuundu Chaitwa, Umodzi Kumawa, or Kola Development Foundation for the sharing of national resources as this will prevent the creation of further divisions in our nation.
Time for dialogue is now!!
The growing discontent from the provinces is a clear indication that people feel very strongly that the developmental path that the country has been taken on has not addressed the developmental needs of our people. We continue along this trajectory.
As Opposition Alliance in Government, we will prioritize the development of provinces in agriculture, health, education and directing investment from the Foreign Direct Investment projects to the historically least developed provinces.
We shall deliberately move to ensure that the least developed provinces in the country catch up with other provinces in terms of health and road infrastructure, investment in agriculture and manufacturing.
The developmental needs, of our Provinces need to be tailored to each specific Province. Having said that we shall ensure that there is uniform development in all the ten (10) provinces. Our Provinces are all endowed with natural resources that will be used for the benefit of the people, firstly in that Province and then, elsewhere.
As Opposition Alliance, our “Marshal Plan” for these Provinces is designed in such a way as to encourage private investment both local and international to set-up businesses in those areas. To this end, we shall promote the ease of doing business in the nation and offer incentives to industries that set up businesses in rural areas. Development must not be centred in Lusaka and the line of rail alone.
This will include the Zero rating for VAT on products produced in these areas and reducing excise duty on agriculture equipment imported especially to be used in the provinces.
In Government, the Alliance shall also suspend duty on manufacturing equipment to be used in the provinces to enhance production of goods at a cheaper price for export.
The “Marshal Plan” will also help to reduce the high levels of poverty in rural areas apart from speeding up the development process.
The Marshall plan’s aim will be to ensure that no area, region or Province feels left behind and to narrow the development gap.
In doing this we lessen the tensions that arise surrounding development seeming to be eluding certain areas and people.
This is our solution to the simmering problem.
The Barotseland Issue
On Barotseland, as the Opposition Alliance, we are of the view that this is a clear and present issue that needs resolution.
There is so much suspicion and mistrust that the Barotse Royal Establishment has been demanding that the Zambian Government must put down in writing what their position is.
As the Barotse Issue is an emotive one to parties along both sides of the divide, it may be worthwhile to engage a mediator to bring the two sides together. With the type and nature of the issue that needs resolution, it may be more prudent to get a mediator. Whether that mediator is local or from outside of Zambia will depend upon the preference of the of the two parties. The mediator could be from the House of Chiefs (for example), a regional body such as the AU, or an international one such as the UN.
Some people may object to international mediation and say, “We are a sovereign nation and can resolve this issue internally amongst ourselves”.
The simple answer to such an objection is that just a few years ago before the last election we had issues surrounding how our elections were to be held and the issue of having a truce and not proceeding with prosecution of an opposition leader.
Baroness Scotland came in to resolve these “internal” issues that we had. It should therefore not be cause for objection from anyone. If it was good to bring in Baroness Scotland a few years ago, then it is good to bring in a respected outsider from outside.
With the Northern Ireland resolution of “the troubles”, President Bill Clinton came in as an outsider to work with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern.
At the end of the day the intervenor or mediator must be agreed upon by the parties to the dispute.
It is clear that the Barotse Royal Establishment is currently an open wound. If you ignore a wound and consider it to be a non-issue, gangrene may set in. Once gangrene deeply sets in you may find that the only option that remains is amputation.
We have had examples in Africa before – Biafra and Cameroon being cases in point. As a nation, we must not ignore this problem but start treating it now to avoid the need for future amputation.
The question is how do we deal with it?
There is no other answer than to have it resolved by sitting at a round table respecting each side of the divide in order to reach a lasting win-win situation for all parties.
AS THE OPPOSITION ALLIANCE, WE ARE OF THE VIEW THAT THE BAROTSELAND ISSUE CAN NOT BE RESOLVED BY ONE LINERS NOR WILL IT GO AWAY BY PRESIDENTIAL DECREE. LET US SERIOUSLY GET THE VARIOUS PARTIES IN A GENUINE RESPECTFUL DIALOGUE.
POLITICAL PARTIES AS REPRESENTED BY THEIR LEADERS
Political Party President Signature
Citizens First President Harry Kalaba
Forum for Democracy and Development President Edith Nawakwi
Golden Party of Zambia President Jackson Silavwe
National Democratic Congress President Saboi Imboela
New Heritage Party President Chishala Kateka
Patriotic Front President Edgar Chagwa Lungu
United Liberation Party President Sakwiba Sikota