Barotseland: President Lungo Receives Sahrawi Diplomat – Hypocritical?
This morning Zambian President Edgar Lungo welcomed a number of diplomats including one from Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara). The Sahrawi have a long history of problems concerning independence and continue to not be recognised by the majority of states in the international scene. This meeting is considered surprising due to Zambia’s continuous rejection of Barotseland’s calls for self-determination and independence. After all, the rights that the Barotse people would like to see respected are the same as the Sahrawi.
This article was published by The Barotseland Post.
In spite of denying the people of Barotseland’s indisputable right to self-determination and independence, the Zambian President Edgar Lungu has today claimed that his country respects the principle of self-determination and the inviolability of frontiers inherited from colonial powers.
President Edgar Lungu said this today Wednesday (17th February 2016) morning when he received credentials from several diplomats accredited to Zambia, among them, from Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) which is currently under Moroccan occupation although recognized by several countries.
President Lungu assured the ambassador of Zambia’s support for the independence of the people of Saharawi.
He said Zambia has always supported the indisputable right to self-determination and independence for Saharawi.
However, Zambia and President Edgar Lungu in particular, has persistently denied the people of Barotseland the same rights that he is publicly proclaiming for the people of Western Sahara. He, like his predecessors before him, has instead treated any calls for the self-determination and independence of Barotseland with military and state police heavy-handedness.
In 2012, the people of Barotseland unanimously declared their independence from Zambia after many appeals, made to the latter, to respect the pre-independence treaty and agreement (The Barotseland Agreement 1964) which brought the two separate nation states (protectorates) of Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland under one sovereign state of Zambia, were consistently denied. Once the Zambian leaders had acquired state and military powers, they unilaterally abrogated and annulled the 1964 agreement, and more conclusively so, in their 1969 constitutional changes. The Barotseland Agreement 1964 guaranteed autonomy and self-determination for Barotseland within the territory of Zambia.
Meanwhile, any Barotse appeals for the restoration of the annulled agreement, since 1969, have been met with brutal military and state force resulting in multiple and mass arrests and lengthy imprisonments of the Barotse only to be released later without compensation, even when no criminality is found on them. Some documented 19 unarmed Barotse people were further killed in 2011 after Zambian police shot at a peaceful Barotse crowd in an effort to prevent them from peacefully gathering to discuss the defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964 with their royal authorities.
Currently, four Barotseland Independence leaders are in incarceration since 5th December 2014 for trump up treason charges because of their alleged role in implementing the Barotse people’s calls for independence from Zambia.
Barotseland Administrator General Afumba Mombotwa and his three colleagues are yet to receive ruling in their treason case at Zambia’s Kabwe Hign Court, which could laterally cost their lives if convicted by the Zambian courts as treason is only punishable by death under Zambian laws.
The same principles and rights of self-determination that apply to the people of Western Sahara do indeed apply to the people of Barotseland also and, therefore, they must all be left to exercise their inviolable rights as they deem necessary.