Friday, September 28, 2012

ZAMBIANS OR NOT ZAMBIANS? - Discussion Document, BNC, March 26-28, 2012 by PROF. SITWALA NAMWINJI IMENDA

ZAMBIANS OR NOT ZAMBIANS? - Discussion Document, BNC, March 26-28, 2012 by PROF. SITWALA NAMWINJI IMENDA Published on Thursday, 27 September 2012 21:10. | Written by The Online Editor. Quote of the Week “We have always said we have nothing to fear about the Barotse Agreement. It is a decent agreement that must be honoured. Only crooks, dictators who want everything to be controlled by them from Lusaka can fear the Barotse Agreement.” Michael Sata - January 8, 2011. Post Newspaper, Zambia ZAMBIANS OR NOT ZAMBIANS? - Discussion Document, BNC, March 26-28, 2012 by PROF. SITWALA NAMWINJI IMENDA Published on Thursday, 27 September 2012 21:10. | Written by The Online Editor. | | | Hits: 330 GREETINGS AND PREAMBLE Na cilanisa, mi ni lumeIisa makwambuyu kaufela,batompehi, ni baenyi ba luna ba ba sepahala, ni batu kaufela ba ba konile ku to ina ni luna ha lunze lu buhisana fa litaba za naha ya luna - Barotseland. Ki bumai kuli ka mafosisa amañwi a ezahalile, ni palezwi ku toba teñi fa mukopano omutuna hakolo woo. DEFINING MOMENTS LEADING TO BAROTSELAND'S FREEDOM In this submission, I argue that Barotseland regained her status as a free and independent, sovereign state in 1969, but because we did not fight for the freedom, we have remained confused to the present day. Instead, we have been engaged in a fight to become Zambians once again by insisting continuously that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 be put back into Zambia's Constitution. This is most probably the only such bizarre story in the entire history of this world. I am sharing these thoughts in response to an invitation by Sope, Minyolui (Ngambela of Barotseland) regarding possible key points for discussion at this all-important Barotse National Council (BNC) meeting. In line with my submission to the Chongwe Commission of Inquiry last November, I dwell on this one point only, which I believe to lie at the centre of most of the problems and challenges we face today as the people of Barotseland. As the title of my paper suggests, the key question I ask is: Is it correct to refer to the people of Barotseland as Zambians today? In order to find a possible answer to this question, allow me - ladies and gentlemen, to itemize for you what I see as the defining moments in the chronology of events, leading to the position I advocate in this paper: 1964, May 18th The Barotseland Agreement is signed; signifying the consent of the people of Barotseland, through their king, the Litunga of Barotseland, to proceed to independence from British rule, together with Northern Rhodesia, as one country. However, the Agreement contained strict conditions with regard to powers vested in the Litunga, the Litunga and his Council, as well as those to be discharged by a future central government. Important to this presentation is Clause 8 of the Agreement which provided as follows: The Government of the Republic of Zambia shall take steps as may be necessary to ensure that the laws for the time being in force in the Republic are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement. To me, this was the most important provision of the Agreement. 1965 In the months that followed the celebration of Zambia's independence, three defining acts of betrayal were committed by the Zambian government - contrary to the provisions of Clause 8 of the Agreement cited above: 1.0 Relocation of Administrative Staff - By a mere proclamation made by the Provincial Local Government Officer (appointed by the Zambian government), the entire administrative departmental staff under the Barotse Government, in all districts, were moved from the royal administrative centres to the respective Bomas. This had the effect of usurping the control of day-to-day administration of the affairs of Barotseland from the hands of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to Zambian-appointed government officials - with the attendant hierarchy of power and authority shifting away from the BRE and stretching, instead, all the way to the authorities in Lusaka. This was contrary to the above-referenced provision of the Agreement. 2.0 Promulgation of the Local Government Act No 69 - to repeal the Barotse Native Authority Ordinance - thereby usurping the powers and authority of the Barotse Government by abolishing the Barotse Native Authorities, the Barotse Native Treasury and providing that, henceforth, Barotseland be administered through a uniform local government system applicable to all districts and provinces of the country. [Again, this was contrary to the above-referenced provision of the Agreement]. 3.0 The enactment of the Chiefs Act Chapter 479 of the Laws of Zambia - which empowered the Republican President to recognize, or withdraw recognition of, any chief in the country. [Again, this was contrary to the above-referenced provision of the Agreement]. The above acts of betrayal were then followed by one more in 1966: 1966 The Local Courts Act came into force in April, 1966, to repeal the Barotse Native Courts Ordinance - thereby abolishing the Barotse Native Courts, in turn disfiguring the judicial functioning of the indigenous courts in Barotseland. 1969 Promulgation of the Constitution Amendment Act No 5 - which terminated the Barotseland Agreement 1964; and abolished all rights, obligations and liabilities attached to the Agreement. It stated that the Agreement shall on and after the commencement of the Constitution Amendment Act No 5 of 1969 cease to have effect, and all rights (whether vested or otherwise), liabilities and obligations there under shall thereafter lapse. This is where my clock stops. This Act, not alone violated the above- referenced provision of the Agreement but it summarily terminated the union between Barotseland and the rest of the country- with the effect that: 1.0 The Republic of Zambia, as contemplated at the time of independence, came to an abrupt end; and, therefore 2.0 The two entities comprising the Unitary State became autonomous. Thus, as a result of the above basket of breaches of the Barotseland Agreement, but particularly with reference to the Constitutional Amendment Act, three things should have happened: 1.0 New geo-political boundaries must have been determined for the two entities which had been rendered autonomous by virtue of Constitutional Amendment Act No 5 of 1969; 2.0 A new name should have been contrived to correctly describe the entity that remained after Barotseland fell outside the constitutional provisions of the ‘Zambian’ Constitution and 3.0 The governance and administrative structures of the part from which Barotseland had broken away should have ceased to operate in Barotseland immediately with the coming into force of the Constitution Amendment Act No 5 of 1969. It is important to emphasize the point that the coming-into-force of the Constitution Amendment Act No 5 of 1969 marked the moment Barotseland became autonomous and free from the rest of country that was previously known as the Republic of Zambia prior to the constitutional amendment. The geo-political entity that remained after Barotseland was constitutionally tossed out of the Zambian constitution had the right to name itself anything - including the 'Republic of Zambia' - but should not, thereafter, have extended its governance and administrative structures to Barotseland. Thus, my humble but informed opinion is that the current governance and administrative dispensation obtaining in Barotseland is illegal - and should, therefore immediately cease to exist. What has happened is tantamount to illegal occupation of one country by another. This point has been made numerous times before - and I have not yet come across any compelling and justifiable reasons, excuses or arguments, to contract this interpretation - either in law or by way of common sense. We see every day that the 'Zambian' government continues to extend its rule to Barotseland - including deploying its army, paramilitary and ordinary police, as well as its intelligence officers (plenty in this room) to do their dirty work in Barotseland. The fact of the matter is that without draconian acts of aggression, repression, suppression, intimidation, harassment, torture, arbitrary arrests - as well as other forms of brutality, Barotseland would have operated as a free, autonomous and sovereign State since 1969. This is what I understand to be the desire of the majority of the people of Barotseland even today. Skirting this matter at this Council meeting will be to do the people of Barotseland an injustice; it will be failing to honour those whose limbs have been amputated, as well as those (whose) blood has already been shed eternally for this cause. There is no need for a referendum. What question is one going to ask the people? They have been rendered stateless for over four decades to this date. Constitutionally, they already fall outside the Republic of Zambia. The only possible question that could be asked is whether or not they want to go back - in line with the recent recommendations of the Chongwe Commission of Inquiry - as elucidated below. SPEAKING IN PARABLES The problem with speaking in parables is that the audience needs a certain level of cognitive apparatus, aptitude and insightfulness to be able to decipher the hidden meaning, or reasons for what is being said. In this case, it is certain that the Chongwe Commissioners saw it clearly that, as things stand presently - and, particularly as a result of the Constitution Amendment Act No 5 of 1969, Barotseland falls outside the jurisdiction of the entity calling itself the 'Zambian government'. This explains why the Commission recommended an immediate constitutional reinstatement of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, in its original and entire form - even before any talks can commence for a future political dispensation. Unfortunately, because the meanings embedded in parables are beyond the reach of some people, the Zambian government has not yet seen the light. So, this means that 'BULOZI KI BWA LUNA", for the time being, while we continue to sit outside the boundaries of the Zambian constitution. The question is, don't we want to make this permanent? If we wait until they have put us back in their constitution, it may be difficult to wriggle out of the bind. This is what makes it extremely urgent for us to come out of this consultative Barotse National Council meeting with one voice regarding our interpretation of the meaning of the Constitution Amendment Act No 5 of 1969. Certainly, by terminating the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and removing it from the Zambian Constitution, this tossed us out of the union with the rest of Zambia. We still sit outside their Constitution. I find it very strange that all along we have been relentlessly fighting to be put back into another country's constitution - while they have steadfastly refused. Do we really want to go back? That is the question this BNC must answer on behalf of the people of Barotseland. The sentiment that 'Bulozi ki bwa luna' is not new. In his letter of February 1, 1994, to President Chiluba, Litunga, Ilute Yeta IV had the following to say: In our humble view, secession is a matter of right and is inherent in the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, so that the parties to the said Agreement reserve the right to revert to their original status if the agreement under which they intended to achieve unity can no longer work. The problem has not been that this position has not been communicated to the Zambian government many a time enough, but rather that we have consistently lived under successive governments which have not had answers to the problems that they created; governments whose primary preoccupation has been to work tirelessly to project a falsehood as the truth - and the truth as a falsehood; governments which have consistently engaged in indoctrination and the propaganda of fabrication and deception - campaigning, through the various national media they control, to make Zambians believe that Barotseland came into Zambian independence on equal and similar terms as all other "provinces"; that the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was a seditious document - after they co-signed it, thereby agreeing to its terms (they actually hid it away from Zambians for almost five decades). Every time they have been challenged to come up with logical reasons for denying the people of Barotseland their rights and freedoms they have simply responded through acts of intimidation, brutality, harassment, arrests and even killings. They keep on doing the same things over and over again, expecting a different result - love, from the people of Barotseland. Einstein defined lunacy as doing the same thing repeatedly - and expecting a different result. The people of Barotseland are not going to forget this story - and time will come, as it appears imminent at this point, when justice shall finally prevail and the people will have an opportunity to exercise their rights and freedoms within their own State. THE IMPEDIMENTS THAT PREVENTED BAROTSELAND FROM ACTUALIZING ITS FREEDOM It is important, and appropriate, to reflect briefly on the circumstances that prevented the BRE from taking over the - governance and administration of Barotseland following the termination of the Agreement - thereby allowing the now - fake Zambian government to eat their case to the finish, and still have it. The natural question that arises out of the background information presented above: What prevented the people of Barotseland from taking over the governance and administration of their land after the breakup of the Agreement in 1969 Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a sad one - particularly when one considers that the Zambian Presidents have so far projected themselves as God-fearing Christians, by day; by night, they have meted out the severest forms of brutality imaginable against the people of Barotseland. It is a situation that clearly illustrates that "in the hands of dishonest and deceitful individuals, power is a very dangerous weapon, indeed." There are many ways by which successive Zambian governments have acted to suppress the people of Barotseland, and thus preventing them from exercising their human and political rights as a nation within their own State. I am aware that there is someone here who has been requested to give a synopsis of acts of discrimination, aggression, repression, suppression, intimidation, torture, harassment, brutality, killings, etc., that the people of Barotseland have been subjected to over the years. So, I'll not steal their thunder by covering this area as well. Suffice it to stress the point that Barotseland remained classified as a nation without a State in world books of nations. One of the best descriptions of the callousness of the Zambian government regarding the question of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is contained in a letter written by RMA Chongwe and Company, on April 21, 1992, to the Zambian State President, on behalf of the BRE. The letter read, in part as follows, at p.2: Mr. President Sir, the members of the Barotseland Royal Establishment had constantly reminded the UNIP government about the breach but due to the perpetual State of Emergency that existed at the time coupled with UNIP's dictatorial tendencies, it was feared and indeed reasonably so, that any pressure exerted on the UNIP government would have serious repercussions on the members of the Barotse Royal Establishment and therefore the grievances could not be publicly voiced out. [Emphasis mine]. As I have just pointed out, other speakers at this Council meeting will cover this topic in greater detail. However, the short answer is that successive Zambian governments have been 100% predictable in their response to anyone who attempted to reclaim freedom for the people of Barotseland. The response has always been a well-orchestrated regime of brutality. Over the years, many have been arbitrarily arrested and tortured, others have been maimed - to different degrees ranging from mild to permanent; some have been killed, and others have gone missing (baisizwe mwa kunu). This has been the reality of life for the people of Barotseland - contrary to the slogan some Zambian leaders {as perpetrators of the calculated legislative enslavement and violence against the Barotse people) that this country has enjoyed peace and prosperity since independence. What peace when people are being maimed and killed; what prosperity when Barotseland stands as the poorest of the poor? GOING FORWARD Going forward, there is one fundamental fact of life that this Council meeting needs to be aware of - and that is that, there is no government that easily and voluntarily surrenders its power and authority to a third party without compelling pressure to do so. Unfortunately, this is just the plain truth about life - even when a government has messed up in a big way, as is the case with the issue of Barotseland Agreement 1964. Failure to see this as a point of departure is likely to see this Council meeting emphasize resolutions as an end in themselves. What is needed is an Action Plan, with time frames, around a set of practical actions aimed to result in the realization of set goals for Barotseland. This Council meeting should not end up like the previous ones - only with good-looking resolutions which, ultimately, took the people of Barotseland nowhere. This Council meeting takes place at a time of heightened expectations for a clear vision and leadership, going forward. I am sorry to say that over the years, there has not been much evidence of a clear vision and leadership coming from the structures of Barotse governance and administration. Lone soldiers have fought isolated battles - and it has been lonely out there. In line with my argument in this presentation, one possible starting point is to debate, frankly, the matter of the meaning and interpretation of the Constitutional Amendment Act No 5 of 1969. The meaning and interpretation that the Council will come up with could help shape its Vision - and hence its Mission, broken down into SMART goals (Simply formulated; Measurable; Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). There may be other starting points, but for me it is this constitutional amendment that gives us leverage for reclaiming our freedom - and I think the Chongwe Commission also saw it that way, hence the high premium they have placed on it. Certainly, an affirmation, for instance, that by tossing the Barotseland Agreement 1964 out of the Zambian Constitution, contrary to Clause 8 of the Agreement, the Zambian government has no further jurisdiction over the territory they excluded from their constitution, this could set in motion a number of specific actions. It is time to allow the Zambian government to "fall on its own sword". That is why I advised the Chongwe Commission last November to go back and report to government that the people of Barotseland had long accepted the Zambian government's termination of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 - and understood that action to mean that Barotseland could now immediately proceed to complete self-determination. In my view, this position leads to an immediate commencement of discussions with the government, with the sole purpose, in mind, of working out transitional arrangements towards Barotseland's self-determination. Certainly, given that the element of trust has broken down irretrievably between the Zambian government and the people of Barotseland, this matter can only be resolved by neutral, trustworthy, international mediators. CONCLUSION This Council meeting will have broken new ground if, and only if, at the centre of its honest and frank debates and deliberations will be the people of Barotseland's democratic wishes, rights and aspirations. Up to this point we, the people of Barotseland, have failed to find a common stand-point on the matter of the Barotseland Agreement 1964. The reasons for this may be varied, but we need to realize that we shall never achieve anything for the people with varied stand-points of this matter. Let us shave different opinions, but in the end we need only one, two or a maximum of three points which should serve as our rallying point(s) as we approach the Zambian government for discussions. Such a position will not be possible if we each endeavour to fore-ground and craft that, which will be best for our own personal benefit. On the other hand, if our focus is on what the people desire to see, we cannot fail to establish the rallying points that we so badly need to move forward. Our freedom has been deferred and postponed for far too long because of relentlessly undermining one another, and agreeing to be used by other people to fight ourselves. Are you not as sick and tired, as I am, of living in perpetual fear of targeted repression? Are you not as sick?

1 comment:

  1. All counter arguments against the piece above are welcome. Please do assemble your army of intellectuals and lawyers so that they can come and confront us before an international panel of judges, we are ready for you any t ime and place.I think we have just about had it.Time comes in life when enough is enough.What we have done is effectively draw a line in the sand.