BAROTSELAND POST EDITORIAL, 13th November, 2016
In our ‘name and shame’ series of articles and commentaries, Her majesty the queen’s UK government would befittingly occupy the first page of Barotseland’s 'Black' book as they, by all historical indications, were the architects and initiators of the ill fated conjoining of the two separate protectorates of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia. We have read and heard of the negotiations that spanned over eleven months prior to the signing of the defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964 at the instigation of Britain.
Official and logical reasoning has been advanced to portray the merits of granting independence to both of her majesty’s protectorates of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia through some form of shared sovereignty, the terms of which were clearly spelt out in a pre-independence treaty agreement. In fact, had these terms been honored to the letter, the British would have been proud to showcase their success in uniting two distinct territories whose only prior commonality was proximity and administrative convenience. One of the commonly advanced reasons for insisting on Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia proceeding to independence as one nation is the point that the British wished to guarantee the economic sustainability of Barotseland that would, by virtue of Northern Rhodesia’s independence, no longer benefit equitably from the resources of the copper rich mines. In retrospect, however, this was a wrong assumption as the ‘western province’ of Zambia, in reality, was never to benefit from the copper mines in Kenneth Kaunda’s government or any other Zambian government for that matter, as the region was always last on Zambia’s overall development agenda. Statistical evidence is there to prove this assertion.
Another school of thought popular to the Lozi was the fact that the British wished to merely minimise their losses as they did not have to pay reparations to both Zambia and Barotseland, as the case would have been, had the two been granted separate sovereignty. This to the Lozi has always been deemed a betrayal of the hearty relationship that existed between the English and the Barotse crown respectively. Remember, the two related for close to a century in mutual respect and friendship. The Litunga was a friend and darling of the British monarchy spanning over several sovereign de jures. In fact, many hold the view that that the British were only too eager to abandon the Litunga now that they had no use of him as political colonization had come to a shameful end globally. The British must be told in plain language that the Lozi feel greatly betrayed by their insistence on surrendering Barotseland to a novice state led by dishonorable people in the likes of Kenneth Kaunda who was an impostor from the beginning.
What further compounds the British monarchy’s bad positioning in Barotseland’s Black Book is that, when in 1965, Kenneth Kaunda started to repeal both the independence Order and Act of 1964 which sited Barotseland as a separate territory within Zambia, and further began to repudiate the municipal law of the country to take away powers reserved for the Barotse government and the Litunga within Zambia, looting the Barotseland treasury and judicial courts among other ordinances, the British merely took notice and conspicuously did nothing. In fact, they even debated Kenneth Kaunda’s default of the Barotseland Agreement in their parliament and sadly noted how Kenneth Kaunda and his government were failing to respect the agreement they had signed slightly over a year prior. However, what did her Majesty’s government do?
Having acknowledged in their parliamentary sittings of 1965 that Kenneth Kaunda had reneged from the terms of Zambia’s pre-independence treaty with Barotseland, they simply resigned themselves to their royal teas and dinners, hiding in the diplomatic veil of non-interference in internal affairs of the now sovereign state of Zambia, while continuing to benefit from the Barotseland Agreement of 1964. How convenient that was for them!
To this day, Britain still maintains this as their official position over this matter – see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. When asked about it in public, British high commissioners to Zambia have often regretted that Kenneth Kaunda and successive Zambian governments unilaterally abrogated the Barotseland agreement of 1964. Beyond that, no punitive or cautionary sanctions are recorded to have ever been imposed on the erring party to the treaty. Even when hundreds or maybe thousands of Lozi continue to be killed, maimed and suffer untold persecution at the hands of the erring Zambian government over a non criminal agreement that Britain was a party to, Her Majesty’s government stand aloof, pretending not to see, when in fact, without the damned British imposed Barotseland Agreement of 1964, the Lozi would be freely living peacefully in their own country Barotseland!
However, the Barotse now wish to demand that Britain can no longer continue to enjoy benefits of an agreement that is no longer in force, and that the excuse of noninterference is inaccurate because Britain was an active party to the agreement. Contrary to the Zambian government’s view that the agreement was between two parties, legally the agreement was tripartite. Each party was a beneficiary. Britain was to be ‘relieved’ of her responsibilities over Barotseland to the new Zambian state through the 1964 agreement. That was a major political and economic benefit in itself. By its abrogation, however, it legally follows that Britain can no longer seek to enjoy that relief.
Although Barotseland is not asking for Britain to ‘re-protect’ or ‘re-colonize’ her again, it is expected that Britain would mediate and facilitate in the on-going self-determination processes Barotseland has embarked upon since 2012 until Barotseland is fully independent from Zambia. This is why Barotseland will continue to include Britain in all her future demands for relief, and Britain will do well to actively get involved sooner rather than later. Britain, therefore, must own-up and facilitate the independent arbitration of this matter at the International Court of Justice or they will forever be on Barotseland’s name and shame list. Britain should avoid the embarrassment that will soon fall upon her for failing to oversee a legally sound decolonization process over her two former protectorates of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia. As for the Barotse, they would surely relish the idea of Britain continuing to be among her future development partners just like it has always been since King Lewanika the first.
The Barotse largely agree that Britain failed Barotseland and they deserve to be named and shamed in her Black Book. Britain now needs to desperately redeem herself and help Barotseland regain her lost glory. One way or another, Barotseland will be free and Britain must choose to stand on the right side of the Barotse history this time round!
Next page will look at Kenneth Kaunda and possibly the Wina brothers, who are probably some of the most loathed Lozi nationals.