Apr 02, 2015

Barotseland: Unity Is the Only Way to Reach Independence

Photo Courtesy of Helle Lardldsen@flickr

After having snobbed the current Transitional Government, claiming that it was not enough, as Zambia had not accepted to withdraw from Barotseland, the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) is now reportedly suggesting the formation of a different ‘Transitional Authority’. These divisions between different Barotse parties should be overcome, as the country should be a unite actor in its negotiations for independence. 



Below is an article published by The Barotseland Post:


The fundamental principle of democracy is the freedom of expression and right to affiliate or associate freely with any group or organization without violating the tenets of freedom. I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (women inclusive) are created equal before the law and have equal RIGHTS; and the fact that all HUMANITY is endowed by the Creator with the power of decision making, should be understood and embraced as UNITY in DIVERSITY.

Allow me, therefore, to discuss the issue of ‘Transitional Authority’ verses ‘Transitional government’ and highlight which is appropriate for Barotseland at this stage. I sincerely respect people's views; therefore, I would like to run over the issue in a simplified and logical manner to draw the attention of the subject closer to its visualization.

One may have been confronted with the question (s) relating to the word ‘Government’, its meaning and how Governments are formed. According to Advanced English Dictionary (AED), it is:

I) the organization that is the governing authority of a political unit OR

II) The system or platform by which a community or other political unit is governed.

Going by the above definitions government is a group of people that governs a community or unit through which public policies are set out. In addition, the government exercises executive, political and sovereign power through customs, institutions, and laws within a state.

I must, firstly, emphasize here that the people of Barotseland want nothing less than being governed by a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY type of government, in an independent state of Barotseland separate from Zambia, and not Federalism arrangement of some kind within Zambia. Indeed, the people of Barotseland have a long train of abuses and usurpation afflicted on them by the Zambian authority, especially the Barotse activists who are pursuing the implementation of 2012 BNC resolutions, the same issue that some Elite Lozis schemed to have these true patriotic advocates for government formation arrested by the Zambian authorities. I wish to urge that it is everyone's duty to throw off such leaders who scheme to dilute the efforts and contributions of others who have provided new hope for tangible governance of Barotseland.

It is interesting and encouraging to note that some group leaders who were not in support of inaugurating the government in Barotseland have now revisited the matter and realized the need of ‘government formation’ in line with the 2012 resolutions of Barotseland independence declaration.

It will be better to look up at the words ‘Transitional’ and ‘Authority’! The word ‘transitional’ speaks of the stage between and before being fully independent, especially when applied in the context of politics, while ‘Authority’ is:

I) The power or right to give orders or make decisions OR

II) (Usually plural) persons who exercise (administrative) control over others.

Therefore, ‘Transitional Authority’ is a group of people who exercise administrative functions over others by making decisions and giving orders, but lacks political element to sustain or spearhead the territory’s interaction at international level among sovereign states to lobby for the territory's recognition.

In simply terms a ‘Transitional Authority’ in the case of Barotseland would lack the leverage to interact with other sovereign states of the world for Barotseland’s state recognition.

The BNFA are reported to be proposing an agenda to establish a ‘Transitional Authority’ for Barotseland. Firstly, one is made to wonder as to what would have changed for the BNFA to encompass the idea of government formation to take control of the territory now, when the same leadership was against the idea of inaugurating the government, such as the current transitional government, in place advancing the argument that Zambia has not yet ‘withdrawn’ from the territory. I wonder whether Zambia has now ‘withdrawn’ so much that the BNFA is now planning to set up their kind of "government" in the form of a ‘Transitional Authority’!

The proposed Barotse Transitional Authority is not only ambiguous but its ideals contravene the political principle to facilitate the day to day governance in the territory where a ‘Transitional government’ is already established.

It is also surprising that the terminology of the phrase; TRANSITIONAL AUTHORITY is being advanced in a territory where the Royal Authority already exercises the same Authority in the name of the Barotse Royal Authority (BRA) or the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE)! We, therefore, cannot have Authority over another Authority. Similarly, we cannot have ‘dual’ governments, unless the law and order has been suspended or there is a discontinuity of the hierarchical monarchy system.

Accordingly, the question may arise as what will happen to the Ngambela (Traditional Prime Minister)'s position as a member of both the Privy Council of the Litunga as well the cabinet council? Besides the idea of forming government has already been taken care of through the current Afumba led transitional government that is already in place, and it takes care of the above ambiguity.

Secondly, the proposed BNFA transitional authority seems to gravitate more to ‘Absolute Monarchy’ type of government where roles of governance are totally controlled by the royal authority. If the Induna in charge of Education, for example, is included in the Ngambela’s cabinet as secretary of State for Education or as a minister of Education, I foresee an old arrangement resuscitated in Barotseland, the very system of government that failed to advance the idea of statehood in 1964. Therefore, the unfolding scenario will not only bring the old system of government we had in Barotseland that failed to negotiate for Barotseland independence in 1964, but may also cause us to remain subservient citizens of Zambia, against the wishes of the people. What is more puzzling with this proposal is that it will be going against the majority of the people in Barotseland who have now opted for a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY, and not an ABSOLUTE MONARCHY where the Royal and government roles are not separated.

Government is very important to oversee the smooth running of a country. It will be right to revisit the definition that a government is the system by which a state or community is governed. In Commonwealth English, a government more narrowly refers to the particular EXECUTIVE in control of a state at a given time--known in American English as an ADMINISTRATION.

As alluded to under Transitional Authority the word Transitional means or may refer to the process before COMPLETION.

Transitional governments the world over are not born out of popular ballot elections but by politically organized group or groups through mere consensus. In August 2013, the Barotseland Transitional Government was inaugurated through a public swearing in ceremony that was made available to many media houses locally and internationally. The willing and politically organized groups in Barotseland at the time participated in this transitional government, while others, either due to lack of understanding or due to fear of Zambian government reprisals, opted to refuse the idea of government formation, arguing that such a government would not be considered ‘legal’ because Zambia had not yet withdrawn her administration from Barotseland! It must be emphasized here that the LEGALITY of what Barotseland does now and in future does NOT lie with Zambia or any other country because Barotseland is now free to pursue her own Political destiny in accordance with the BNC declaration of Independence of 2012. Consequently, Barotseland is not in crisis of governance. We have both the Transitional Government and the Royal Authority in place, and the two are coordinating well together so far.

The transitional government in place is already working and has already achieved some success in advancing the cause of Barotseland, among these being the forging and pursuing of bilateral working arrangements with other countries which is has already achieved implied recognition in some cases, ratification of the Katengo legislative council, appointment of constituent assembly, formulation of government Acts and Orders, delimitation of constituencies, legal process against Zambia at ICJ is underway, establishment of media such as Barotseland post and Radio, etc.

It is now, therefore, hoped that the BNFA’S proposed Agenda, if pursued, is not going to be another way of ‘grinding rice with a stick of carrot.’

The process of government formation occurs most commonly following an election, but may be understood that even during independence liberation each and every group is a government in waiting, and can come up with a shadow government. Once the political parties have reached an adequate accommodation, and a government is able to be formed, it is expected that the parties will make appropriate public statements of their intentions.

The process of forming a government is political, and the decision to form a government must be arrived at by politicians and not the Monarch. Therefore, it is unacceptable that the proposed BNFA Agenda of the BTA wants to bring on board the Indunas as members of the constituent assembly and cabinet council.

By convention, the role of the Monarch in the government formation process is to ascertain where the confidence of the people lies, based on the parties' public statements, so that a government can be supported. It is not the Monarch’s role to form the government or to participate in any negotiations under the Constitutional Monarchy type of government (although the Litunga in his role as the Head of State might wish to talk to party leaders for clarification).

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments established in good faith like the current Transitional Barotseland government, led by His Excellence Rt.Hon Afumba Mombotwa, should not be changed for light and transient causes.

Therefore, the BNFA should endeavour to prevent the population of their membership from being misguided away from the present truth that the Transitional government is in place and working because it has commenced the process of taking Zambia to the competent court of ICJ on a Government to Government basis. Further, the BNFA should not make their members to be dependent on their wishful thinking alone for the tenure of forming governance body.

Equally important is our hope that the BNFA should not obstruct the administration of unity by refusing to recognize and embrace the Transitional Government in place. If their concern now is lack of adequate representation in the current transitional government, having snubbed it before, they could pursue representation by cooperating with the already established government, and therefore, be a part of the reconstruction of the Barotseland Kingdom, or simply consolidate themselves for checks and balances as they organize themselves to participating in the general elections and seek people’s mandate to form future government.

If by any cause, the ‘Transitional Authority’ proposed is to be formed is a ‘Government’, a question may arise about the current Barotseland Transitional Government we have in place since August 2013, and how many governments Barotseland will have in place? However, if it is not a government but just an ‘Authority’, questions will similarly arise as to where the current Barotse Royal Authority will be placed, because the BTA is the authority we already have in our land in the form of BRE.

If the proposed March 26th – 27th 2015 BNFA sponsored conference is dubbed to be a Barotse National Council (BNC), a question may arise, as to who sanctioned its hosting? To my best knowledge, only the head of state can sanction the hosting of BNC.

As things are now, the document proposing the March 26th – 27th 2015 BNFA sponsored conference has neither been disowned nor assented to by the BNFA. It could not be attributed to Linyungandambo as its source, either, because to my best knowledge Linyungandambo is not part of the BNFA? Therefore, it can only be assumed that this BNFA Agenda is really alive. It is with this in mind that this opinion has been written to highlight what I believe are weaknesses of this BNFA Agenda.

Nevertheless, I believe that a united Barotseland is the only hope forward to independence and peaceful co-existence among political players and followers. Let us, therefore, avoid "Moya wa ka kundukundu" (going with the whirlwind of confusion) and move forward together in UNITY.