By Saleya Kwalombota
The Zambian government’s systematic impoverishment of Barotseland is a matter for serious reflection by all well-meaning citizens. This is the territory which joined independent Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) as a rich territory and with enough qualified human resource. Minahan (2002:1117) aptly notes: “Formerly one of the wealthiest peoples in Southern Africa, the Lozi are among the poorest.” The agenda of impoverishing Barotseland by the state of Zambia is reflected in all areas of social and economic spheres of the people. Poverty levels in Barotseland are extremely high, escalating on a daily basis and can not be divorced from Zambian policies tailored to hold the territory in perpetual poverty.
The foregoing information is given to illustrate the extent of deprivation of Barotseland citizens in terms of employment in the Zambian government ministries even before the disengagement process began.
The government of Zambia through the ministry of General Education has recruited 3,148 teachers, out of an estimated 85,000 graduates, countrywide according the Zambia Daily mail of 23th November, 2017. The recruitment exercise saw Luapula receiving the biggest share of 554 teachers followed by western province with 427 and the least is Lusaka with 182 teachers.
The recruitment exercise of teaching staff not only did bring out incidences of corruption but tribalism too.
For example out of the block figure of 3,148 only 50 are Barotse. Worse still, the deployed number in Barotseland is mainly of names from eastern, Luapula, Muchinga and North provinces. Since instruction in schools especially at lower grades is in language of the region, I wonder how such people will impart knowledge of our language and culture in our children. This has a telling effect in distortion of Barotseland culture and retardation in educational standards of our children.
Furthermore, the 2017 report of GDP per provincial contributions projects Copperbelt as the highest, followed by Lusaka and North western province respectively. Western is at the bottom of the list. The report actually tallies with the outcome of the poverty census. In fact the poverty levels in Barotseland remained the same (84%) in 1991 and 2006.
This is not just a mere speculation, but facts of self determination. Barotseland as an independent state would have things like national stadium of the size of Heroes stadium, different sporting disciplines which would all be a source of employment.
There would have been a state house, MPs, a cabinet, the civil service, Barotse Newspapers, embassies abroad, radio and TV. All these would have been a source of employment which would have taken on more Barotses than there are in Zambian government today. Expecting equal opportunities in the government of Zambia as a Barotse national is a dream that will never come true.
Bulozi fasi la bo ndata Luna