Barotseland: Activists Call upon the Zambian President to honour the Barotse Agreement
The Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) published a letter addressed to the President of Zambia following his recent election on 20 January 2015. In the letter, the BNFA calls upon the President to commit to a peaceful transition period leading to the independence of Barotseland as entailed in the Barotseland Agreement of 1964.
Below is the letter of the Barotse National Freedom Alliance to the Zambian President published by Lusaka Times:
Accept our compliments of the season and congratulations on your assumption of office of President of Zambia following the 20th January 2015 Presidential elections. We write to you regarding the above subject and welcome you to the reality of assuming the Presidency of a failed unitary state of Zambia.
We trust and hope that you will not run away from this reality as did your predecessors but engage us in the transition process of actualizing Barotseland statehood in a pacific manner. We have a rich understanding of what constitutes the Republic of Zambia—going back to the amalgamation of the territories of North-Eastern Rhodesia and Barotseland-North-western Rhodesia in 1911 to create the Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, the forerunner jurisdiction to the Republic of Zambia. This was based on several treaties, the last of which was the Barotseland Agreement 1964 which facilitated for Northern Rhodesia to proceed to independence as one country and one nation, as opposed to dissolution into its former constituent territories as a consequence of the termination of the unifying colonial treaties.
To verify the foregoing assertion, we invite Your Excellency to carefully read, in sequential order, the following provisions of the constitutive statutes of the Republic of Zambia:-
The preamble to the Barotseland Agreement 1964 as well as its clause 1; Section 1 and 8 of the Zambia Independence Act; and Section 20 of the Zambia Independence Order.
The road to independence in 1964 and the role Barotseland played in that process is well known and well documented, even though the first President, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda tried to make it his entire life project to suppress it from the Zambian people and prevailed on his successors to continue oppressing the people of Barotseland. Since independence, the people of Barotseland have watched with great dismay how successive Zambian regimes violated the Barotseland Agreement 1964; the very fabric of the basis of the unitary state of Zambia thereby leading to its unilateral repudiation in 1969, and, thereafter, continued violations of the human rights of the peoples of Barotseland.
It has always been the desire and expectation of the people of Barotseland to have that Agreement, embodying their human and minority rights, respected by the people of Zambia and successive Zambian regimes but such expectation has proven to be in vain.
It was against that background that the peoples of Barotseland, through the March 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC), resolved to accept the repudiation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and, thereby, set in motion the process of separating the territories of Barotseland and the rest of Zambia.
We do not understand why the rest of Zambian people, Zambian politicians, Zambian government, and Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and his successors fail to understand that without the Barotseland Agreement 1964, there is no unitary state called Zambia. As it were, the Barotseland Agreement 1964 is no more. Barotseland has since taken steps to engage the leaders of Zambia with a view to working out transitional arrangements towards self-determination and self-rule for Barotseland, but the Zambian regime has responded with more human rights abuses against the peoples of Barotseland while running away from international arbitration.
Additional steps taken include:
? Formation of the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA), an umbrella Organization which brings together all serious activist groups and individuals at home and abroad for a common purpose; ? Petitioned the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, The Gambia, the Commission determined to be seized by the petition, which is currently on
admissibility stage. Suffice to mention that the Zambian government has failed to submit counter evidence in support of its intransigence over the issue; ? Joined membership of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO); ? Challenged the Zambian government through our international Lawyers to sign a submission Agreement to allow for the implications of the Zambian government’s unilateral abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and Barotseland’s acceptance thereof and declaration of statehood to be determined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.
Needless to say that while we collected more than 10,000 signatures from Barotse nationals in support of the PCA process, the Zambian regime under the immediate past and late President Michael Chilufya Sata chickened-out by refusing to append its signature, which was in essence an admission of guilty. It is in view of the foregoing that we feel this time round, we have to get going on day-one of your assuming office as regards matters that the people of Barotseland dearly and strongly look up to.
Specifically, we challenge you:
To immediately engage the people of Barotseland and Barotse Civil Society Organizations with the sole purpose of working out the transitional arrangements towards self-determination and self-rule for Barotseland; To append your signature to the Permanent Court of Arbitration submission Agreement process to allow the International Court of Arbitration to rule on the unilateral abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 by the Zambian government in 1969 and the declaration of self-determination and self-rule by Barotseland following its acceptance thereof through the Barotse National Council resolutions of March 27, 2012. In this regard, our Lawyers will soon be mailing to you the facilitating documentation to enable Your Excellence append your signature to the submission Agreement; Not to interfere in the governance and administration of the nation of Barotseland as well as in the re-organization and modernization of Barotseland governance institutions; To recognize the human rights of the peoples of Barotseland to self-determination and self-rule; To make a public affirmation that it is not treason to advocate for an independent state of Barotseland; Release and free all Barotseland nationals sentenced or incarcerated in Zambia jails for offences related to Barotseland statehood; To release and cause publication of the Chongwe Commission of Inquiry report on the genocide committed by the government of Zambia on 14th January 2011, including the minority report; Inform us on the whereabouts of the missing persons on the fateful day of 14th January 2011; Allow for freedom of assembly, association and organization in Barotseland;
We trust that among your first tasks as President will be to address the foregoing matters and eagerly await your reaction to this communication.
Clement Wainyae Sinyinda
Chairperson General Barotse National Freedom Alliance of the Kingdom of Barotseland
Photo courtesy of WorldFish@flickr