This may be the case in the current anger against Lubosi Imwiko II today. It is understandable that many Lozi, especially the young are very angry and frustrated at Lubosi Imwiko II, and probably they are not entirely to be blamed. However, for those a little older, this scenario is similar to what Sir Mwanawina III faced in the run up to Barotseland’s ill fated union with Zambia. Then, like now, the young and hot blooded had issues with Mwanawina III, and their angry desires to ‘fix’ him so crowded their judgment that they lost sight of the bigger picture. They were very clear on what they wanted against Sir Mwanawina III, but could not see what their real enemy Zambia wanted out of it all.
Today, many think they are clear on what they wish to do to Lubosi Imwiko II, whom they regard as their obstacle to attaining individual and collective goals. However, very few are thinking what Zambia might wish to achieve out of this whole scenario. In their anger, they are focused on the pain they wish to inflict on Lubosi Imwiko II. They are clear on how to ‘fix’ him but are not aware of what the Zambian establishment may be doing in the background to ‘fix’ Barotseland as a whole.
How many have paused to think, even for a moment, how it is that Imikendu, a very well known ruling Patriotic Front party cadre and functionary, who barely five months ago almost killed an opposition UPND party supporter in full view of Zambia police, could today turn around to champion the dethronement of Lubosi Imwiko II, an even more powerful supporter of the ruling Patriotic Front. The whole nation was gripped with horror and torment when a ‘machete’ (sabule or dagger) or plank wielding Imikendu brandished his weapon and ‘slashed’ the opposition supporter at Mongu airport as the victim fell to the ground lifelessly in a pool of his own blood. Fortunately, the victim Trusty Imasiku Siisi survived, but Imikendu was never charged with any crime because he belongs to Zambia’s ruling establishment. It is the same Imikendu who on 21st November 2012 appealed to then President Sata, through the Post Newspaper, to ruthless deal with campaigners of Barotseland independence.
How is it that this same Imikendu is today ‘allowed’ to antagonize Lubosi Imwiko II, yet Lubosi is the most powerful Barotse ally of the Zambian state? Is this mere coincidence or could it be that Zambia’s ruling establishment is really the ‘devil’ behind Imikendu’s action against the Litunga?
Caution and alarm must be sounded here because Imikendu’s current action against Lubosi beats all logic. What is certain is that his present action does not emanate directly from the ordinary Barotse because for a very long time, their cries to have Lubosi censured were ignored by Imikendu and his cohorts. Secondly, the supporters of the current action seem to be trying too hard to convince the grassroots to rally behind Imikendu. Even the Barotseland transitional government (BTG), Linyungandambo, BNFA and all other main stakeholders were not involved; else there would have been no need for the much solicitation, to the point of emotional blackmail, for Imikendu’s support. We of course know that some time back, the BNFA had initiated a similar appeal to have the Litunga abdicate, but that campaign did not attract the support of people like Imikendu, and the campaign had generally died down as Malozi had decided to let Lubosi Imwiko II be while they pushed for independence using other methods. In fact, many know and appreciate that our Litungaship, like other Barotseland institutions of governance, are currently under Zambian state capture, and cannot effectively push for independence. How can the Litungaship and the royal establishment be expected to champion for independence when they entirely and directly depend on the Zambian government coffers to survive?
It is our theory that what is really happening now is that the ruling establishment desperately wishes to disentangle themselves from some of the outrageous promises they made to Lubosi Imwiko II in exchange for his support during the August 2016 elections. Remember we had warned that the promises made to Lubosi at the time were unattainable? Lubosi Imwiko II was promised, among other things, to be publicly declared as ‘King’ within the republic of Zambia. Now such a promise would rattle and be a complete departure from decades old Zambian public policy, which is why we had argued at the time that Lubosi was being ‘deceived’ by his counterpart, the Zambian president. Remember also that during the election campaigns, Lubosi was in all government news media addressed as His Majesty the King or Litunga of Barotseland, but shortly after the elections, his title reverted to His Royal Highness the Litunga of Western Province?
However, because a promise was made, Lubosi must have followed-up on some of these promises! The establishment, on the other hand, cannot fulfill such ridiculous promises as declaring officially that Litunga is King in a republic that abrogated the pre-independence Barotseland Agreement of 1964, would be unacceptable in Zambia. They used him and now they must dump him. Therefore, to ‘escape’ from these promises, the establishment has to find a way of making Lubosi embattled once again, but through his own ‘people’, and we think this is where Imikendu, a money mongering overzealous ruling party functionary who is ready to kill to be noticed by the establishment, who also purportedly holds a very sensitive role in the royal establishment, comes in. Remember it is also the same Imikendu, then as a member of the ruling MMD, who was allegedly paid huge sums of money by the establishment to enthrone Lubosi Imwiko II without following customary laid down vetting procedures in 2000. His personal battles with Lubosi, however, are well known and they started as far back as 2004 when he again desired to dethrone Lubosi Imwiko II over some personal differences.
First scenario, we think, is that if Lubosi’s throne is purposely ‘rocked’ and he becomes embattled, he will have no choice but to ‘run’ to the establishment for protection. If he gets due protection from the establishment, Lubosi will once again feel heavily indebted to it and will no longer ‘push’ for the fulfillment of the promises that were given to him. On the other hand, if the plan is really to get rid of Lubosi through Imikendu, then the bigger picture is for Imikendu to find a more ‘suitable’ replacement who will be more ‘loyal’ to the ruling establishment, and either way the establishment will have disentangled themselves from the ridiculous promises made to Lubosi and the Barotse nation will be further weakened and torn apart by the ensuing discord.
Meanwhile, the young unsuspecting angry Barotse would have helped to fulfill this bigger picture because while they were focused on hitting their visible ‘enemy’ Lubosi, they were oblivious of what their real enemy, the Zambian government, was up to.
If we were to choose a new Litunga today, we guarantee that the first order of business for the establishment is to show him what is legally due to him. The hefty salary, the huge amounts paid out in relation to the Barotseland Agreement 1964, which by the way have continued to be paid yearly, although the establishment does not publicly acknowledge the pre-independence agreement. So, any Litunga enthroned under present conditions will not be able to facilitate Barotseland independence. It is very difficult if not impossible because the Litungaship, like many other Barotse institutions of governance, must first be set free from Zambian State Capture. The Barotse would have dethroned Lubosi but not achieved any independence by that act, as life of struggle would continue like before. In fact, with Lubosi Imwiko II, the Barotse have a negotiating advantage because they can remind him of how he sanctioned the 2012 Barotse National Council that unanimously voted for Barotseland independence. A new Litunga on the other hand, could easily refuse that ground as it would have been done by his predecessor.
In our view, Barotseland must now seek to entrench their declared independence by completely shunning Zambian activities as much as possible, especially optional ones such as elections, national events and Zambian court processes. Such civil obedience is more likely to convince the world of Barotse resolve for independence rather than actions that seem to endorse the very Zambian systems they have claimed independence from.