Allow me space in your wonderful media channel to share this screed on the subject of change and resistance once more. From interactions with people at home and abroad it is evident that there is still ignorance and resistance to the momentous change of March 2012 when Barotse Royal Kingdom officially accepted the abrogation of the BA’64 by its former UNITARY STATEHOOD PARTNER Northern Rhodesia. What needs to be reiterated time and again is that playing oblivious to the idea whose time has come will not help, just like ‘crying over spilt milk’.
So far the Royal Barotse Authority and interim Barotse Government have put programmes in place to ensure that our reclaimed new statehood attains its full restoration and maturation, within the specified time-frames. However, progress of these programmes has been marred by some inevitable resistance. This is not new but something that is expected of every change programme. The most serious challenges to improving programmes all have the same focus which is people. Fortunately our leaders know that developing and implementing programmes to keep today’s Barotseland competitive in a tough, constantly changing environment requires dealing with resistance to change. Resistance to change is a fact of human nature which according to Robbins and Finley (1998:102) is an ancient pattern which broadly models the following steps:-
1. A good idea creates an aura of hope.
2. Hope inspires some people but causes others anxiety.
3. Anxiety prompts resistance.
4. Resistance wrecks the good idea.
However, it does not usually happen this way. For instance, a raffle winner of a M750 000(Barotse currency) is not likely to decline the prize just because he cannot handle the anxiety his fortune will bring. In the same vein, a salary increase or a promotion is more likely to generate a positive reaction in an average worker. It is when a perception of negative consequence to a change or the continued uncertainty surrounding a change initiative is entertained by an individual that resistance is fostered or/and encountered. These perceptions arise from the information and misinformation from around us, coloured by one’s experiences and knowledge, insights, emotional maturity and finally the extent of their obduracy or flexibility. So, people’s resistance to change is more the result of their perceptions of the psychological and social consequences of change. Additionally, our leaders need to distinguish between rationalizations and misinterpretations and the possible deeper levels of reasons for resistance. We have seen, heard and read all these misconceptions, fears, rationalizations, anxieties and resistances to our change but so far so good. We owe it all to our leaders for containing the process so well. Nonetheless, there is still enough room for improvement to be made, in the way our change agenda is being managed. I will not labour on causes of resistance since this was addressed in the preceding articles on this very subject of change, almost a year ago. Allow me instead to reflect on the life cycle of resistance to change and how this is affecting us on our way to total freedom.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF RESISTANCE TO CHANGE IN BAROTSELAND.
The impatient and anxious minds are filled with many questions wondering as to when shall all these things come to past- the ills that Zambia is meting against us and our full independence? The international community still seems to be numb and deaf to our repeated calls to help Zambia wake up to the reality of the present truth. Apparently, the eyes of an ordinary observer may see delayed and denied justice. Painful as it may be these are some of birth pangs to our much treasured freedom. This article attempts to explain the perceived delay from the school of management and change. Hoping that by so doing it will put the doubting or perplexed mind into proper perspective.
Most management scholars have observed that resistance to change undergoes a life cycle: from
a, outright resistance,
b, through partial resistance,
c, to partial acceptance, and , finally,
d, to complete acceptance; when each Mulozi and the whole world including UN, SADC, AU and our neighbouring Northern Rhodesia get to that level and our side of the story.
The reason behind all this is perhaps as observed by Scott and Jaffe (1989: 24-30) that change involves elements of both danger and opportunity. When people approach a change programme their first response is usually to see it as a threat or danger. Unfortunately, this is the standpoint of our coloniser Zambia. The good news is that once the change occurs it is not unusual for those affected to start getting used to it and begin to see new opportunities, possibilities and strengths – TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT WE COULD NOT ACHIEVE IN UNIT OF UNIFORMITY (DUBBED AS ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION) WE CAN DO BETTER IN UNITY OF DIVERSITY AS SEPARATE SOVEREIGN STATES. These two broad stages of danger and opportunity can be subdivided into the following phases most people move through in every major transition, Barotse Independence inclusive:
A. DANGER can be subdivided into denial and resistance; people who see change as a danger will inevitable experience denial of change and resistance to its import. Unfortunately, Zambia is stuck at this level of our change transition toward self-determination.
B. OPPORTUNITY can be subdivided into exploration and commitment. To the contrary, individuals who view change as opportunity engage in exploration, consequently committing themselves to being part of the change team. This is the Barotzish espoused position. In our transformational change we see our full strengths and opportunities to liberate and develop our motherland, from where we paused pre 1964.
STRATEGIES FOR RECOGNIZING AND MANAGING RESISTANCE
Managing the different stages of change will call for different strategies. It must be noted here that during any particular period of the change programme and while leaders are mapping out their change management strategies, different people may well be working their individual ways out through the different phases. That is because in as much as we are different individuals we are in different phases at any one time in our change process. This is true for both Zambian and Barotse nationals. Following are some proposed tips found useful in recognizing and diagnosing each phase to help us all as individuals or Team Barotse to manage our change phase situations effectively and efficiently to our ultimate and desired goal:
1. DENIAL PHASE
• Do you find yourself withdrawn, “business as usual”, dwelling on the past. Lots of activity but not much gets done. The presence of Zambian armed security forces in Barotseland is a good example of this, even when the soldiers are begging their commander to take them back home because they are doing nothing but weekly deaths of soldiers in our land. The CHECKLIST includes apathy, numbness to purpose and ‘it will be over real soon’ attitude. This typically well defines Zambia’s position. As the time runs out for them we have seen a lot of denial tactics employed by our Zambian folks to try and thwart our determination.
• Confront ourselves or team members with information to know that the change has commenced, is ongoing and has a definite resolve. Explain expectations and suggest actions to take to adjust to the independence change programme or give time for the impact to sink and then conduct regular planning sessions or meetings to involve all levels in the home, workplace, church silalo, munzi and so forth. It is planned and hoped that the three-year interim period will suffice for the transition logistics.
. Characterized by anger, blame, anxiety, depression, and drastic productivity drop, remarks like “does it matter, whether Iam in Barotseland or Zambia?” Remarks like “The Barotse Government or people don’t seem to care” attitude. Is this your condition? CHECKLIST includes failure to sleep at night, anger and fights, withdrawal from the team, and remarks like “I gave my all but look what it got me”.
• First accept the resistance phase syndrome, listen, acknowledge feelings, respond with empathy and support to self or others concerned. It is human to feel that way but what can be dangerous is to hide ones feelings. It is important to let people show their true colours because this exposes them for appropriate remedy. The greatest enemies to our change agenda are those who pretend to be with us and yet they are introvertly against us! The snake in the grass!!
. A person in this phase has over preparation, confusion, chaos, energy. "Let’s try this and what about this ……..” There is just a lot of energy and new ideas but a lack of focus in a change exploring individual. The CHECKLIST indicators include over-preparation, frustration, too many new ideas, have too much to do and distorted focus. We might all have felt like this at one time or another.
• Focusing on priorities and providing or attending any needed education and training courses. Follow up on projects underway. Set short term goals. Conduct brainstorming, participation, visioning and planning sessions. The style and modes of doing this may vary given the political intolerant atmosphere that still lingers upon us by our former coloniser Zambia.
4. COMMITMENT PHASE
. People in this change phase work together. They have co-operation and a better focus. The language is “How can we work on this?" These people are looking for the next challenge to get the mission accomplished and vision attained. Undoubtedly, Team Barotse needs the committed individuals who grasp our self-determination not as a danger but opportunity to be ourselves, consistently with the holy writ in Acts 17:26 Nyambe, our God “… hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” There is nothing to be apologetic about by any Lozi because our nation existed from time immemorial to most of us, even long before there was any land called Zambia. The CHECKLIST at this change phase notably includes teamwork, satisfaction, clarity of focus and strategic plan.
• Setting long term goals, concentrating on team building, creation of legal and other guiding policy documents, validating and rewarding those responding to the change and looking ahead to avoid surprises.
As a nation this is how far we have gone. How far are you dear reader?
The team Barotse needs the commitment of everyone and every structure in our land to grace the commitment by the Interim Government and others. The prevailing gaps in the network of our liberation train need closing up to avoid being misconstrued by Zambia and the eagerly on looking world. For instance, the protracted vacancy of Ngambela and the numbness of our MPs in foreign Zambian parliament may be eroding the needed impetus to our change and hence the ‘delay’.
Notwithstanding, dear compatriots, the long night of our colonial rule is far spent and imminent is the dawn of our independence. Subsequent to this is our basking in the sunlight of our day of freedom. We will sit under the mingongo, mizauli and mango trees, among others, by day, to shade and recruit ourselves from the failed omens from our enemies, while taking stock of our long walk to freedom (50 yrs. in servitude). We will then fully understand that patience pays, even in the face of resistance to change!
Written by Lindunda Wamunyima.