Editorial: Beware of President Lungu’s bait; Barotseland does not need Referendum as a Means of Implementing Disengagement with Zambia

30 January 2015
Author 

News reported in some sections of the Zambian media that president Lungu wishes to engage with Barotse Royal Establishment and the activists so that they could show him the boundaries of what he referred to as the “so called Barotseland” so that he could possibly allow for a referendum, should not excite Barotseland even a bit as president Lungu is at the very least bluffing or he has no knowledge of what the Barotseland issue is really about.

The fact is, the people of Barotseland do not even require a referendum to be conducted on account that there is no legal reference of their existence within the union with Zambia. Zambia used its parliament to destroy the treaty that it did not create. Therefore, Zambia should instead respect the views of the people at the March Barotse National Council (BNC) of 2012 by withdrawing its administration from the territory they do not legally own.

Referendum in Exercise of Self-Determination

Recently Barotseland Government Lawyers wrote this on the issue of using a referendum as a means of implementing the disengagement between Barotseland and Zambia. Here below we share some of what they had to say on this matter.

The exercise of the right to self-determination requires, by its very nature, the expression of the will of the people. The holding of a referendum in order to establish the will of the people with respect to a change of status matters is a widely accepted act of self-determination. By way of example, Scotland recently held such a referendum on its independence. The Conference of Experts however noted that the act of self-determination is not reduced to a referendum but is seen as an integral process to which the referendum is but one of the elements. They further cautioned that where only votes count, a people or community which is numerically inferior has no control over its destiny. To this end, if a referendum is to be conducted then it has to be carefully formulated and the group of people allowed to vote clearly defined in order to ensure that the people of Barotseland are the ones that ultimately make the decision. If the vote is left to all of Zambia then the voices of the people of Barotseland can be quite easily drowned and the essence of the referendum defeated.

However, on the other hand, the people of Barotseland do not require a referendum to be conducted on account that there is no legal reference of their existence within the union with Zambia. Zambia used its parliament to destroy the treaty that it did not create. If Zambia was led by clever and sane people, they would have respected the views of the people at BNC of 2012 by withdrawing its administration from the territory they do not legally own. Over 50,000 people had gathered at BNC 2012 to resolve that Barotseland shall now become independent and it shall then determine its future whether good or bad.

It is not within the powers of Zambia to decide the fate and prospect of Barotseland; the independence of Barotseland is not hinged on Zambia to decide. Barotseland has a right to decide on its own, just like it did in 1964 when it resolved to join Zambia, and in the same way, it has decided to come out of it. There is no ambiguity in that.

The people of Scotland went for a Referendum because there was nothing that they had agreed upon with Britain that they did not respect; the rules and conditions of their union were rightfully followed, but still the people of Scotland felt they were lacking the element of being Scottish as a people coming from the independent Nation of Scotland. So they sought to come out of it, and the legality of any case determines whether referendum should be considered or not.

As for the case between Barotseland and Zambia it is such a straight forward one; it requires the respect and sincerity of both parties to be exercise maturity, or else it can result in deadly conflict which could have been avoided.

The true position of Barotseland within Zambia is that, Barotseland wants total independence granted through the 2012 BNC; to actualize it, it will go ahead to sue Zambia in the International Court of Justice just to lay claim and charges against Zambia, so that Zambia can now pay for all the misfortune it has caused on Barotseland in the court of law. If Zambia feels it has a legal claim over Barotseland, then let it advance it.

It must be noted that previous attempts by the Barotseland to engage the Government of Zambia in any form of meaningfully dialogue has fallen on deaf ears. If Zambia continues to skate around the matter of peaceful disengagement by bringing in no-issues such the referendum proposal then they are clearly showing that they are not serious about settling this matter peaceably.

We, therefore, wish to caution Barotseland nationals not to be duped by promises of referendum. If Zambians are failing to organize elections whose outcomes are agreeable to all, what guarantee is there that the organized referendum will yield acceptable outcomes?

If Zambia does not with draw their administration, the more credible routed is to take them to an international Court where they can produce their legal claim to administration of Barotseland.

Barotseland should not lose focus by paying credence to Mr. Lungu’s statement. In our view he is just setting up for the Lozi vote in Zambia’s 2016 general election. If he is serious he must firstly talk about his plan for withdrawing his troops from Barotseland, releasing all political prisoners in Zambian jails, such as His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Afumba Mombotwa, Administrator General, Rt. Hon. Likando Pelekelo, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Rt. Hon. Sylvester Kalima, Deputy Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rt. Hon. Masiye Masiyaleti, Deputy Secretary of Defense, including the four BNYL officials; Boris Maziba, Nayoto Mwenda, Sikwibela Wasilota and Hon. Mubita Waluka, who are unjustly serving jail sentences. These must be freed without any conditions and further delay.

Besides, The Zambian government already knows what the people of Barotseland want, not only through the BNC 2012 resolutions, but also the Rodger Chongwe Independent Commission of Inquiry which to date government has refuse to make public, only because the commission recommended the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964. So what do they now want to achieve through the proposed referendum other than creating a platform to dupe Lozis once and for all?
Malozi, alutone! Busile. Bulozi kibwaluna Kupale Kumane. Abashi referendum!

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.