PROFESSOR SIMENDA TELLS OFF THE POST ON BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT
Post news Paper,
P/ Bag E352, Lusaka
Ref: Editorial Comment and Other Innuendoes Regarding the Barotse Royal Establishment
The Opinions expressed by the Post Newspaper this week regarding the position taken by the Ngambela, on behalf of the people of Barotseland, on the matter of Radio Liseli playing songs in languages other than those indigenous to Barotseland, make sad reading.
Certainly, in making these comment and innuendoes, the Post did not consider the following matters, all of which are already in the public domain:
1. That Barotseland was a sovereign and autonomous nation for centuries before the coming to Africa of Missionaries and later Colonialists;
2. That when the Missionaries and Colonialists arrived in Barotseland, the nation’s sovereignty was acknowledged, recognized and respected, leading to a number of Treaties – including the following:
• The Lochner Concession of June 1890
• The Lawley Concession (Concession A) of June 25, 1898
• The Barotseland – North Western Rhodesia Order-in-Council of 1899
• Concession B of 1900
• Concession Agreement of August 11, 1909
• The Northern Rhodesia Order-in-Council of 1911, which amalgamated North Eastern Rhodesia and Barotseland North-Western Rhodesia into Northern Rhodesia
• The Northern Rhodesia Order in Council of 1924
• The Barotse Fund Ordinance of 1925, in terms of which a special fund was established to finance the running of the Barotseland Government
• The Barotse Native Authority Ordinance and the Barotse Native Courts Ordinance, both of 1936
• A Special Order in Council of 1953
• Sections 57 and 80 of the Northern Rhodesia Order in Council of 1962; and sections 59 and 112 of the Self-Governing Constitution of 1963, which both affirmed and recognized Barotseland as a separate State within Northern Rhodesia; and
• The Zambia Independence Act and the Zambia Independence Order of 1964, which gave recognition to the Barotseland Agreement 1964.
Of particular importance is the point that The Litunga protected himself in all these treaties and agreements by way of the clause that “nothing written in these agreements shall otherwise affect my Constitutional power or authority as Chief of the said Barotse nation.”
1. That the last treaty, i.e. the Barotseland Agreement 1964, was not respected by KK’s government, thereby leaving a legacy, to-date, for subsequent Zambian governments also not to respect it. As such, as everyone knows, the Barotseland issue has been a sensitive matter which has been simmering since the first Republican President (KK) betrayed the people of Barotseland by, in his way of thinking, introducing both new legislation and undertaking constitutional amendments, to revoke the Barotseland Agreement 1964 - thereby preventing the people of Barotseland from continuing with their right to govern themselves, within a unitary Zambia. The legality of what he did cannot stand in an impartial court of law. A Treaty or International Agreement, such as the Barotseland Agreement 1964, is not a matter for one of the signatories to abrogate because the same power that KK had to sign on behalf of the Northern Rhodesia Government was the same power that The Litunga had to sign for his nation - Barotseland. In essence, therefore, if it was legal for KK to abrogate the Agreement, it was also equally legal for The Litunga to abrogate it as well, with the attendant consequence that The Litunga-in-Council would have continued with their business of governing Barotseland as it had done for centuries before. That no Litunga has taken this step up to now is not only a miracle but also a credit to the discipline of the Lozi nation. There is really nothing that I can find to prevent The Litunga from proclaiming the internal self-determination and autonomy of Barotseland, as provided for in the Barotseland Agreement 1964, within a unitary Republic of Zambia.
One would like to emphasize that The Litunga-in-Council are not aware of any other Treaty, other than the Barotseland Agreement 1964, on which they have tendered their signatures, agreeing to how Barotseland is to be administered and governed. So, basically, it would be legally correct and true to say that Barotseland has been administered and governed illegally by the Zambian Government since 1964 (also see Post Bag, July 26, 1998) because there is no Treaty or legally-binding instrument, negotiated with, and dully signed by the legitimate representatives of the people of Barotseland, giving the Zambian government power to carry out day-to-day administrative and/or governance duties over Barotseland. So, basically, the Radio Liseli saga is just a tip of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 iceberg. It is also NOT a new case because starting from the time the Radio station began to broadcast on a trial basis they received many complaints about the linguistic imperialism that they were promoting. I am a Catholic, but I want to pray and glorify God in my language. I am quite convinced that God understands Silozi.
For those that may not know, Silozi is the national language of Barotseland. Malozi are not of one tribe. Malozi are the people of Barotseland – constituted by 37 tribes ( amongst whom are Ma Mbowe, Ma Kwandi, Ma Kwangwa, Ma Subiya, Ma Kwamakoma, Ma Kwamwenyi, Manyengo, Mambukushu, Mayeyi, Mankoya, Maluvale, Mambunda, Machokwe, Maluchazi, Malunda, etc.). Silozi, as a language, together with other national symbols like the Barotseland national anthem, the Barotseland national flag, and others symbolized the sovereignty and autonomy of Barotseland.
1. The Post should also have been aware (because they have, themselves previously reported on these matters) that in order to keep Malozi quiet on the issue of their human, economic and political rights, as enshrined in the Barotseland Agreement 1964, successive Zambian governments have always used very heavy-hand tactics against anyone suspected to be sympathetic to, or having a soft heart for, the Barotseland Agreement 1964. Such heavy-hand tactics have included political detentions and victimization of Malozi (see Times of Zambia, January10, 1997; The Post: August 23, 1998; November 20, 1998; February 25, 1999; February 26, 1999; October 6, 1999; October 15, 1999; Sunday Times: October 24, 1999; Zambia Human Rights Reports of 1998 &1999; National Mirror, August 14-20, 1999; The Monitor: April 23-29, 1999; May 12-18, 2001; Sunday Mail, February 7, 1999 etc.). So basically, Malozi are now in a situation whereby they’re scared to say or do anything around the issue of their human, economic and political rights as enshrined in the Barotseland Agreement 1964. Is there an acceptable way in which they can call for the restoration of their right to internal self-determination, as provided for in the Barotseland Agreement 1964, without incurring the wrath of The Post Newspaper or the authorities? The negation of these rights has been a human catastrophe and a tragedy. We’re happy and proud to be called Zambians, but only if and when the legal instrument (the Barotseland Agreement 1964) which made this possible is also acknowledged, recognized and respected by our fellow Zambians. We, therefore, yearn for, and request not to be provoked because in the end when we react, those responsible for the provocation remain in their comfortable homes sipping tea while we get the shorter end of the stick and suffer serious consequences of intimidation, harassment and detentions (as the above references will bear me out). It is far better to leave us alone for the time-being while we ponder how to get out of this quagmire, than to keep on poking and poking. Alternatively, perhaps The Post is on our side, and is just creating that much needed spark to have us spring to action, together with them, such that we may begin to see the light at the end of this very long 43 year old tunnel. If this were to be so, then we should probably arrange to sit together around a square table and find each other on this matter.
Basically, since 1964, the fundamental issue in the minds of the honourable members of The Litunga-in-Council, has always been, and still is, who is in charge of the day-to-day administration and governance of Barotseland. This means that, unless, and until, the Barotseland Agreement 1964 issue is addressed to the satisfaction of all, some people, such as The Post, will continue to quibble with the symptoms of the bigger issue. As Malozi, we do not express hatred towards other Zambians by calling for the restoration of our human, political and economic rights; we’re just stating our case – by the way, unapologetically. It is not our fault that we’re Malozi - we were born so; it is not our fault that we have the Barotseland Agreement 1964, to safe-guard our human, economic and political rights. This was due to the valour, wisdom and foresight of our fore-bearers. If other Zambians have their own Agreements and Treaties which ought to be recognized and respected, they are also equally free to state their own case – and we shall respect them. But they do not have the right to stop us from stating our own case. Championing the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is not tantamount to instigating secession or to court treason, as many misguided people often resort to thinking. It is basically to acknowledge the human, political and economic rights negotiated by Malozi, at the point of joining other Zambians, before coming together as one country.
The irony of this whole fiasco is that whereas the colonial government acknowledged, recognized and respected the sovereignty and political autonomy of Barotseland, it is fellow Black people, i.e. the Zambian government, that has abrogated the rights and privileges of Malozi to internal self-determination. It appears it has become a curse of Barotseland to be colonized by fellow Black people, when one considers that from the 1830’s to the early 1860’s, Barotseland suffered the same fate at the hands of Masotho. So, basically, Barotseland never lost her sovereignty to the White people (because Barotseland always enjoyed her sovereignty even during colonial times), but has only done so to fellow Black people.
The other issue is that there is no such thing as a “Western Province Agreement or Treaty”. The use of the term “Western Province” to refer to Barotseland was an undemocratic imposition of the KK regime, in line with his other machinations which characterized his communist, brainwashing syndrome - to both distort the borders of Barotseland and to give effect to his treacherous abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, after he had signed it. So, the use of Western Province in reference to our land has remained a sore insult, which we have had to endure for so long.
Typically, before one reacts to a situation, such as this one, one needs to get to the bottom of the psyche of the person who has made such Opinions. This is not an easy task in a sensitive matter such as this one because most well-meaning Zambians are aware of the above unfortunate history. For over forty years, Barotseland has not been treated fairly by Zambia - culminating in presently being paraded as the poorest part of the Republic of Zambia, despite an abundance of human and natural resources. To run a national newspaper is to have a very powerful forum for communicating ideas. The Post, therefore, has a very powerful instrument of communication to influence the direction of thought in the country. When this is abused, serious consequences may result. Barotseland does not have such a powerful forum to counter their aggression and the pursuance of whatever agenda they want to champion. So, what reasonable forum can we expect to use when they come all out to attack the very foundation of our pride, glory, honour, integrity and our rallying point – the Barotse Royal Establishment and the Litunga-in-Council? Perhaps one needs to fight fire with fire, so we’re asking the same Post Newspaper to allow us space to express our feelings on what they have said. This is a self-defeatist approach, but what else can we do? We’re desperate and disempowered. SinceThe Post parades itself as a democratic, independent newspaper, we hope it can easily allow views opposed to its own to find space in its pages.
Our hope lies with the Mwanawasa Government because now, at very long last and with much tribulation, we have a government that prides itself in respecting the rule of law. It is our hope, therefore, that this government can start a genuine and meaningful process of reviewing the legality of this all-important matter of KK’s abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 – entailing genuine negotiations with the Barotse Royal Establishment and the people of Barotseland on a civilized way forward, instead of continuing to hold on to the cruel illegality and legacy left by KK’s large appetite for absolute power which left Malozi without their fundamental right to internal autonomy in the day-to-day governance of their affairs – as provided for in the Barotseland Agreement 1964, which KK himself signed willingly and with his eyes wide open. This has been a terrible atrocity against Malozi, and we hope our present Government of Laws (the Mwanawasa government) will not condone this human atrocity for much longer.
Prof. Sitwala Namwinji Imenda
Mobile: +27 82 888 3606
January 19, 2007.