Barotseland: A Zambian Presidential Campaign Tool?
Time has shown that Barotseland’s claim to be independent has been continuously used as a tool for presidential campaigning in Zambia. 2016 does not seem to be an exception to this rule. So, is the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 really conceivable in practice? Or has it not been implemented due to the unwillingness of the current (and past) Zambian elected representatives?
Below is an article published by The Barotseland Post
Zambian politicians are trekking back to Barotseland seeking relief from registered voters as it has become crystal clear that none of them can win the coming presidential elections without maximum support from all corners.
Edgar Lungu, the president of Northern Rhodesia, has not officially declared his country’ s campaign period but leaders of opposition political parties are borrowing a leaf from him as he has already gone full time on the campaign trail.
Nevers Mumba of the MMD has begun his campaigns in the impoverished region of Barotseland where he hopes to pick up sufficient momentum to carry him through the regions of Zambia.
The return of Mumba to Barotseland where he has already held meetings with Members of the embattled Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in Limulunga, Mongu and Senanga districts, however, comes as a surprise to many because hardly a year ago he was promising the Barotse to make their divorce case against Zambia into a national issue.
But most surprising was when parliament begun debating the new Zambia Constitution; none of his Members of Parliament ever plucked up enough courage to voice out an opinion on it. Barotseland was to have been debated under a clause that proposed to give partial autonomy to regions so that they could be tied to the central unity government under a federal system of governance. But the clause was brushed aside by the ruling Patriotic Front machinery closing out every possibility for Barotseland self rule within the borders of Zambia.
Understandably, few Barotse are turning up for Mumba’s meetings knowing full well that like Michael Chilufya Sata of the Patriotic Front before him, Zambian politicians were full of lies and deceit and none had any honor, decency or integrity in them.
In 1964, Kenneth Kaunda himself promised heaven on earth for Barotseland, but instead they were the first to feel the brunt of his ego as he made them first guests in his prisons and torture chambers for protesting his unilateral repudiation and abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964.
In 1991, when faced with imminent electoral defeat, Kenneth Kaunda, however, pronounced publicly at a rally in Senanga that he would ask the Barotse to make propositions for self rule, which he would consider if reelected as president in the first multiparty election after decades of one party state rule. His public sentiments on Barotseland self rule were nationally publicized through the government operated Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation television and radio.
FTJ Chiluba and his newly constituted Movement for Multiparty Democracy, MMD, could have none of that, and vehemently denounced Kenneth Kaunda’s public pronouncement at the Senanga rally that would encourage Barotseland self rule, as can be seen in the attached widely sponsored newspaper placement condemning Kenneth Kaunda’s sentiments over Barotseland. However, later, during his presidency, as the eventual winner of the 1991 election, he equally promised to review the Barotseland agreement 1964, without specifying what he wanted to do about it, but then went back on his promise declaring the 1964 agreement statutory stale. It was under his rule in 1996, where the term UNITARY was inserted in the Zambian constitution in an attempt to imply that the now ‘unitary’ state of Zambia had become indivisible.
Chiluba was followed by Rupiah Banda (the Butcher of Barotse people), whose government killed more people in Barotseland than any other in the long history of the kingdom and threw even more in prison. That he deserves to go to ICC is not in doubt, in the minds of many Barotse, who now spit on the ground when they remember his reign!
Banda’s successor, Michael Chilufya Sata, fared no better and his ill treatment of the Barotse was denounced by the likes of Nevers Mumba himself. In 2012, Sata ordered the army to shoot those advocating for a return to the pre-agreement status prompting Mumba to accuse Sata of ‘declaring civil war on the people of Barotseland.’
Mumba observed then, that Sata was to blame for creating despondency among the Lozi as he had promised the people of Barotseland that he would restore the Barotseland Agreement 1964 within 90 days of his presidency. Sata, then, had backed his pledge by declaring: “I am Linyungandambo Number One,” yet once voted into office he reneged on this promise and instead of supporting his ‘friends’ in Linyungandambo, he sent them to jail in their hundreds.
Today, leaders of Linyungandambo, who include Afumba Mombotwa, who is also Administrator General of Barotseland (leader of the transitional Barotseland government) are incarcerated in the notorious Mukobeko Maximum prison where the untried Barotseland political prisoners suffer the fate of condemned murderers and others with grim criminal records.
All of them today live in incredibly overcrowded penal cells, endure bad food and suffer the torture of sleeping on hard cold cement floors without blankets, lice all over and no proper sanitation. Sata is the godfather of Zambia’s current president (Lungu) who seems to be the darling of the embattled Barotse Royal Establishment as he is often reported to hobnob with the Litunga even at awkward hours!
Just over a year ago, Mumba himself fell into the trap door of insincerity when, like Sata before him, he promised a legacy which he could neither deliver nor undo when he came up with the alluring but impossible political bait of holding a referendum over the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 should the Barotse and the rest of Zambia elect him president.
First to condemn Mumba was William Harrington, trustee for the Barotseland National Freedom Alliance, who observed that no referendum was necessary to be held over the Barotseland Agreement as Barotse people had overwhelmingly submitted to the Sata appointed Rodger Chongwe Commission of Inquiry that they wanted out of the marriage.
Indeed, even the only referendum that was held on 17th June 1969 to amend the Zambian constitution was overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Barotseland who rightly saw it as a scheme aimed at giving Kaunda the right to usurp the Litunga’s powers over land and natural resources in Barotseland.