Secessionist Sentiments in Western Province

The continued agitation for secession by traditional leaders in Weste­rn Province is no doubt a thorny and complex issue which requires the government of the day to tread carefully in its efforts to resolve it. Like all other serious national issues facing us, we need to summon our wisdom in find­ing a lasting and peaceful solution to it. In this article, I wish to make a few observa­tions about the issue.

We Are One People!:

Although the majority of Zambian citi­zens to­day can identify themselves as belong­ing to one or two of our country’s seventy-three (73) tribes, we are all essentially one and the same people. In short, we are all members of the Zambian family. And recogni­tion of our oneness has, no doubt, been the linchpin of the enhanced and unmat­ched national unity which our coun­try has enjoyed since inde­pen­dence. I, therefore, do not suppor­t my traditional cousins in Western Province secede from the Zambian nation.

An Era of Integration:

Integration of sovereign states has been one of the leading aspirations of socio-economic policy over the last sixty or so years, so much so that we can appro­priately describe our era as an era of integ­ration. There are numerous motivations for such integration, inclu­ding the need to create larger financial and goods markets, and the need to assume greater bargaining power in interna­tional affairs. In general, societal members worldwide have become true beli­evers in the concepts of “strength in numbers” and “in unity, there is greater strength.” Secession in an era of integration is, therefore, counter­produc­tive at best!

What Is the Central Issue?:

I believe the main issue which has continued to invoke secessionist sentiments can be found in Clauses 2 and 3 of Article 4 of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, which I will cite here below:

Article 4: The Litunga and His Council: (2) The Litunga of Barotseland, acting after consultation with his Council as constituted for the time being under the customary law of Barotseland shall be the principal local authority for the government and administration of Barotseland. (3) The Litunga of Barotseland, acting after consultation with his Council, shall be authorized and empowered to make laws for Barotseland [with respect to issues cited in Agreement].

Unfortunately, decentralization of authority to provinces is not likely to mitigate the prevailing desire for secession because it will require leaders in the 10 provinces to be elected by residents. The secessionist, I believe, are mainly about having the Litunga and his inner circle to preside over the political and economic affairs of Western Province, perhaps with some semblance of democracy through titular structures of elected leaders.

So, our fellow citizens in Western Province need to decide whether or not they prefer to be governed by a monarchical regime without any viable mech­anism for peacefully replacing incompe­tent leaders. The secession which my traditional cousins are seeking is not feasible in the long run without first gauging the general feelings (about the secession issue) of the Mbunda, Mankoya and other tribes in the Western Province, and the Lozi people who have intermarried across provincial boundaries.

A Highly Divisive Issue:

Secessionist sentiments are a highly divisive issue; the longer they are sustained, therefore, the more they are likely to create an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility between the Lozi people and the other 72 Zambian tribes, with whom they have peacefully coexisted over the last 47 years.

Our beloved country has been a unitary and indivisible sovereign state since its inception in 1964. Each and every one of us, therefore, has a civic and moral obligation to guard against the temptation of dividing it on ethnic lines. We need to continue to exercise our civic and moral duty to be patriotic and loyal to our beloved country, and to foster national unity as well as live in harmony with other members of Zambian society.

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4 Responses to Secessionist Sentiments in Western Province

  1. Isaac March 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I think the map you are using is misleading and its the one thing that will lead to alot of blood-shed. The Barotseland is smaller than the current Western Province and it does not include the Nkoya, Luvale, Mbunda, Luchazi and Lunda areas which your map has included. The map of Barotse does not include the Kaoma and Lukulu districts of Western Province and cannot include the Lunda kingdoms.

  2. Shamboshi Danny April 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    I cannot understand my Lozi cousins. They are seceding from who? Have the other tribes conspired to illtreat them? have the other tribes sidelined them in any way? They have an issue with both Kaunda and Sata and they must get these people to account. Secondly, and a corollary to my question of seceding from who? It does not make sense to me to describe as separate entities; Zambia and Barotseland. Zambia is not Zambia without Barotseland and if they break away whatever remains will not be Zambia. I have said again and again a True King seeks to extend his Kingdom and not to break it up. If the Lozis are men enough, they have to extend their rule across the rest of the land we call Zambia. Not to cave out a corner and exploit the ignorant citizens. That is what the Lozi traditional leaders want to do. Exploit their own people. Please go Uganda and research and learn what has happened their! The Lozi’s must also convince me that there is not part of Angola, Namibia, Botswana and even Zimbabwe which was not under Lozi rule prior to 1964. They must convice these countries to give up thoses pieces of land and then only then can we consider granting them independence, otherwise they must face the wrath of the entire country.

  3. Joanne May 8, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    I live in Canada but have driven from Lusaka to Kalabo. I loved your beautiful country and its people and I am returning this August for a visit. I am not worried that there will be political strife in your country when I come as I have faith that you will solve the issues peaceably.
    I understand how the Lozi people feel. There needs to be a better way to reach Mongu from Kalabo and Kalabo to Angola.
    I love the villages in Western province and the family community spirit they possess, and I would not want to lose that safety net but they need a better infrastructure. Banks, grocery stores, restaurants, shops so they can move forward. Solar power, internet, educational materials.
    From what I have read, maybe they are tired of being told they will have these things and it never happens.
    I read the minister of educations budget speech from 2011, ” Because education matters” was what she kept saying but not one part of the speech mentioned what schools were built or what was done to better education in Kalabo district.
    There is such potential for development west of the Zambezi, it is such a shame that it is taking so long to help these people and realize the wealth of that area.
    I hope the King and president can come to a mutual agreement and finish that road to Kalabo. The rest will take care of itself!

  4. Chester May 19, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Well this thing called zambia is awast of time those of us who know wat is happening in our progressive neighbouring countries.we have a lot to learn from this,just look at this all progressive Governments have failed to provide simple running tap water in all compounds in lusaka the vicinity of state house.what kind of politics are these what does it take to do this in a place were water is abundat. Look @ botwana its a dersert they harvest water and there’s water were it is need even in villages.Policemen and women favour foreigners to zam bians esP traffic corps.