• Studies and consultations to have Barotse Plains listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site began in 2007.
• In the last two years, the campaign to sensitize the public was intensified.
• Government will not proceed to submit the nomination of Barotse Plains as a UNESCO World Heritage Site next year.
Government has with immediate effect halted the campaign to have the Barotse Plains listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in order to allow for further consultations among stakeholders.
In a statement, Tourism Minister Rodney Sikumba said studies and consultations to have the Barotse Plains listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site began in 2007 when permission to do was sought and granted by the Barotse Royal Establishment. Consultations have been on-going since then.
Mr. Sikumba stated that in the last two years, the campaign to sensitize the public was intensified through radio, television and community meetings across the plains, coupled with a fund-raising campaign in Lusaka and Livingstone to save Makono Village from the corrosive action of the Zambezi River which traverses the Barotse Plains.
He noted that Makono village has great traditional significance to the Kingship of the Litunga in Western Province and must be protected and preserved at all cost.
“Government will not proceed to submit the nomination of the Barotse Plains as a UNESCO World Heritage Site next year until all concerns are addressed,” Mr. Sikumba said.
Mr. Sikumba said his Ministry through the National Heritage Conservation Commission and Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) had until now spearheaded a campaign dubbed, “From Barotse to the World” aimed at bringing international recognition to the unique landscape, culture and traditions of the Barotse Plains.
He assured the nation that listing the Barotse Plains as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has nothing to do with the sale of land in the Barotse Plains, or the dispossession of the people of their heritage in any form.
“Such recognition will be essential to attract tourists from all over the world to the benefit of the local people and the country’s economy through tourism.
“Government would, therefore, like to encourage all stakeholders who feel left out in the consultations to use his period to engage the BRE and the National Heritage Conservation Commission to discuss their fears and concerns,” he added.
Zambia became a party to the World Heritage Convention in 1984 and had the Victoria Falls declared a World Heritage site in 1989. The Makishi and Gule wa Mkulu (the Nyau dance) also enjoy the World Heritage status under the World Cultural Intangible Heritage Convention.