GOVERNMENT, people of Western Province and the Barotse Royal Establishment should dialogue over the Barotseland Agreement to find an amicable solution, the three Church mother bodies have advised.
The church said there was no need to engage in violence because of misunderstanding over the issues of the Barotseland Agreement.
In a joint Pastoral Letter on celebrating Zambia’s 50th anniversary, the church leaders said they strongly felt that all parties to the matter must embrace a spirit of dialogue as a way of dealing with the related issues.
The letter was co-signed by Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) president Alfred Kalembo, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) board chairperson Joseph Imakando and Episcopal Conference of Zambia (ZEC) president Telesphore Mpundu.
“One other issue that our nation has struggled to resolve and comprehensively put to rest in the past 50 years is that of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964,” the church bodies said.
“Our position as christian churches mother bodies has not been to apportion blame on any party but to appeal to all: the Government, the people of Western Province, the Barotse Royal Establishment and the organised activist groups to come together and find a lasting solution to the delicate situation in Western Province,” the letter reads.
The Church mother bodies said it was believed that none of the parties involved cherished needless acts of violence or an environment where people lived in fear and uncertainty.
They vowed to continue to call on all stakeholders to demonstrate commitment to peace by refraining from violence, intimidation or use of force as a means of achieving their objectives.
“Violence and intimidation produces no winners in resolving problems. It just hardens the hearts of the victims to defend their positions by the same means and in the end a vicious cycle of hatred, violence and intimidation is perpetrated,” the letter reads.
The church bodies said whilst they recognized the duty of Government to maintain law and order and to protect life and property, this duty should however be exercised with due diligence.
The bishops said it was their humble view that “at the bottom of the mentioned matter is a perception – real or imagined – that the province is marginalized in matters of development”.
They called on Government to not only continue bringing about meaningful development to the Western Province but also to manage perceptions that the area had been sidelined when it comes to matters of development.
“Again, while we acknowledge the continued efforts by Government to bring about development in Western Province, clearly much more still needs to be done,” they said.
They urged Government to identify challenges the country was faced with and find solutions to those problems.