Political Editor, Barotseland Post
It is today exactly seven (7) years since Zambia’s Rupiah Bwezani Banda government issued marching orders to their brutal police to use maximum force and stop unarmed peaceful Barotse people who had mobilized themselves to gather peacefully and discuss in a civilized manner, the future of their nation, Barotseland, with their royal establishment. Anyone who knows the Barotse will agree, without hesitation, that they are among the most peaceful and civilized people in the world.
As South Africans and the whole world commemorate Nelson Mandela’s death, the Barotse are also commemorating the arrest and imprisonment of Barotseland independence leader Afumba Mombotwa and two others; Likando Pelekelo (62) and Inambao Kalima (55), who were arrested by Zambia security forces for spearheading Barotseland’s independence from Zambia.
Afumba (58), now considered by many of his followers as Barotseland’s own Nelson Mandela (for his imprisonment on national independence related trumped up treason charges by an oppressive state), has been in jail since his arrest on 5th December 2014.
On 14th August 2013, Afumba Mombotwa publicly took oath of office as Administrator General of Barotseland, a position that would see him head a three year transitional Barotseland civil government tasked with the responsibility of, among other things, seeking international diplomatic recognition of Barotseland statehood.
Barotseland, an independent constitutional monarchy, is seeking peaceful disengagement from Zambia, having unanimously declared its independence from the latter in March 2012, a move the Zambian state will not tolerate, at least not for now.
The unanimous Barotseland independence decision was arrived at during the Barotse National Council (BNC) meeting of 27th March 2012, which called for Barotseland independence from Zambia after the latter repeatedly refused to restore a 1964 pre-independence treaty that guaranteed Barotseland’s autonomy within the new state of Zambia. The Barotseland Agreement of 1964 was, however, unilaterally annulled and abrogated systematically by Zambia’s first and successive governments without ever being implemented.
Over the past fifty years, several appeals to have the agreement restored and honored were denied, while those calling for the honoring of the agreement were often arrested, tortured or killed by Zambian government agents, until the March 2012 BNC called for the independence of Barotseland from Zambia since the agreement that joined Barotseland to Zambia could no longer be restored.
AND the people of South Africa are today commemorating the life passing of the great Nobel Peace laureate; world statesman and South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who also served as South Africa’s first black President from 1994 to 1999.
Mandela was personally an enthusiast of King Lewanika I of Barotseland, naming one of his children after the great king. The Lewanika name has now been passed down to Mandela’s grandson and great grandson. He died in December, 2013 at age 95, but his legacy will live on.
Due to popular demand, we have here below arranged and reproduced the entire section that Dr. Ndangwa Noyoo made on Barotseland’s quest for self-determination at the Workshop on Contemporary Zambian Politics, Centre for Social Science Research, 29 - 30 September, 2016, at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
The section was titled, BAROTSELAND AND CALLS FOR TOTAL INDEPENDENCE:
I argue in my latest book, Barotseland’s amalgamation with Zambia: A political conundrum, that the Barotseland question was a conundrum that was solely created by the founding Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP and then cemented by successive Zambian political administrations from 1991 to date.
This issue cannot be crushed or wished away. It is actually going to reconstitute Zambia in one way or another…Even if the Zambian Government and Zambians in general do not want this to happen…it will happen.
Zambia is an amalgamation of two former British colonial territories viz: Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia.
Zambia was consummated in May 1964 (before Zambia’s independence on 24 October 1964) when Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia merged after the signing of the now defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964.
Despite this, the Constitution Amendment Act 3 of 1969 - a so-called Constitutional Referendum reform of Kaunda and UNIP abrogated this treaty and henceforth criminalized the Barotseland question.
Whilst relying on draconian legislation and other instruments such as the State of Emergency, Barotse nationalists were detained at will by the Kaunda regime throughout the One party state era. The largest number of Barotse nationalists detained to date was 160 in 1973, including the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Barotse Government or Katengo, the late Hastings Ndangwa Noyoo (Government of the Republic of Zambia, 1995).
For many Zambians, this issue only ‘came to light’ after 1991, when the political space was opened – much to the irritation and consternation of many Zambians.
But the quest for an autonomous Barotseland had always been sought by the Barotse or Lozi as they had negotiated for this status in Zambia via the Barotseland Agreement.
The continuities of the past, as regards Barotseland are exemplified by, inter alia, the continuous criminalization of the Barotseland question by Zambian Governments for five decades.
But the tactics of UNIP cannot hold sway anymore as the world has changed.
Information is readily available due to the Internet etc. The tactics of UNIP of distorting and hiding information regarding the Barotseland question are obsolete.
Massive troop deployment, mass arrests and intimidation have not cowed the Barotse.
The Barotseland question can no longer be caricatured as ‘secession’ as it is a national question which Zambia has failed to answer in five decades.
Curiously, successive Zambian governments after 1991 had employed Kaunda’s and UNIP’s tactics to crush the Barotseland issue (in a so-called democratic dispensation) with thousands of Barotse or Lozi being killed, maimed, arrested at will, on mostly trumped up charges.
THE FOLLOWING KEY ISSUES WILL DEFINE THE BAROTSELAND ISSUE GOING FORWARD:
1. The MMD government of Rupiah Banda (2008-2011) will go down in Zambia’s history as one political administration that had perpetrated the most gruesome acts of state-led violence against the people of Barotseland. The Zambian Government’s brutality had resulted in the deaths of many Barotse nationals. These acts of violence were precipitated by what are now referred to as the ‘Mongu riots’ of 14 January 2011. This massacre had resulted in the deaths of about 18 individuals even though the Zambian Government claimed that there were only two people who died.
2. The Barotseland issue is no longer a ‘traditional affair’ but a nationalist struggle waged by various Barotse liberation movements whilst the current Litunga (King) of Barotseland and the so-called Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) have effectively become moribund after allegedly being bribed by the Zambian Government and taking highly puzzling stances which directly violate Barotse governance, laws, customs and traditions.
3. On 14 August 2013, a Transitional Government of Barotseland was set up and an ‘Administrator General,’ Afumba Mombotwa. Mombotwa, who was also the Chairperson of LINYUNGANDAMBO (a Barotse nationalist movement), was ‘sworn in’ as the ‘Administrator General’ of Barotseland by the ‘Chief Justice’ in Mongu.
* AFTER THIS BAROTSELAND DECLARED A UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE (UDI) ALONG THE LINES OF KOSOVO.
4. On 27 March 2012, the people of Barotseland convened a Pizo or Barotse National Council (BNC), where they all unequivocally expressed their desire to reconstitute Barotseland into a sovereign nation (Barotseland’s ‘Brexit’ or Referendum). The BNC is the highest policy-making body in the indigenous Barotse political and governance systems. All seven districts of Barotseland were represented at the BNC through their traditional rulers with some people from the Barotse Diaspora in attendance. There were also some Zambian Government officials of Lozi origin who witnessed this occasion. Among other issues, the BNC gave notice in this manner:
“WE NOW INFORM ZAMBIA AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THAT WE FINALLY ACCEPT THE UNILATERAL NULLIFICATION AND THE ABROGATION OF THE BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT 1964 BY THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT, WHICH ACTION HAS FREED BAROTSELAND FROM BEING PART OF ZAMBIA. IN LINE WITH THE POSTLIMINIUM DOCTRINE WE CAN NO LONGER BE OBLIGED TO HONOUR AN INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT THAT THE OTHER PARTY HAS NULLIFIED AND ABROGATED, WHICH HAS REVERTED US TO OUR ORIGINAL STATUS.”
5. Afumba Mombotwa, Likando Pelekelo and Sylvester Inambao Kalima were arrested on ‘treason’ charges and subsequently sentenced to 10 years.
6. The Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) another Barotse nationalist movement recruited international Lawyers at the Dugué & Kirtley International Law Firm to take this matter to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
7. It also launched an online petition for all nationals of Barotseland and those in the Diaspora to electronically sign a Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which would allow for Barotseland’s legal status to be determined peacefully and in accordance with international law.
8. The late and immediate past president of Zambia, Michael Sata refused to sign the submission. More than 10, 000 Barotse signed the petition and more are still signing it. The international lawyers also sent through the PCA to the new Zambian president Edgar Chagwa Lungu. Thus far Lungu has not signed the PCA.
9. To its credit, the BRE through the Ngambela or Prime Minister, launched a case against the Zambian Government at the African Union’s (AU’s) African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR). After months of delay, the Zambian Government had responded and requested the case to be thrown out. However, the people of Barotseland through the Office of the Ngambela countered and added more evidence to their case. This process has not been concluded.
10. THE YOUTH FACTOR:
The struggle for Barotseland’s sovereignty has been taken up by the youth and in my opinion, they will decide the conclusion of this saga. They are more radical, many are incorruptible and resolute.
11. A case-in-point is that of the Barotse Youth League (BYL) leaders namely, Nayoto Mwenda, Boris Muziba and Sikwibele ‘Skwiz’ Wasilota who were arrested on trumped up charges. They were subsequently each sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour by Magistrate Malata of Kaoma Magistrate Court for “publication of false news with intent to cause fear or alarm to the public contrary to the laws of Zambia.”
12. The Magistrate also noted when passing sentence, that the trio’s “conduct during the court process was not good.” The young militants had contended throughout the trial that they could not be tried by a Zambian court as they were citizens of Barotseland.
13. The trio argue that Zambian courts were partial when it came to cases involving people from Barotseland. Incidentally, one of the accused, Mwenda, is a qualified lawyer. They then asked that their case be transferred to the Commonwealth Court which they said would impartially adjudicate the matter.
14. They defiantly went on to serve their three-year jail terms unshaken and not compromising on this held position. They were later released by Edgar Lungu through a presidential pardon.
15. As we speak five Barotse youth freedom fighters who were freed on 28 June 2016 by Kaoma Magistrate Chingumbe, who found them not guilty, over ‘seditious practices’ will be back on trial in Zambia’s higher court after the Zambia Government appealed the verdict. These youths were arrested for merely carrying and displaying an Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) Flag. Barotseland is now registered with this organisation.
16. The BAROTSE INTELLIGENTSIA FACTOR:
Previously this group was instrumental in propelling the UNIP nationalist struggle against colonial rule and ironically undermining Barotseland.
17. These were notably the Wina brothers Sikota and the Arthur (deceased), Kabeleke Konoso and Munukayumbwa Sipalo (who the Barotse Youths refer to as ‘sell-outs’).
18. Other Barotse intellectuals were more pro-Zambia or simply disinterested. However, things are now different as the Barotse intelligentsia is playing a critical role in this struggle.
The recently sworn in but disputed Zambian president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has once again put himself up for public scrutiny by declaring that his government will soon start the process of discussing the defunct 1964 Barotseland Agreement.
According to the 19:00 hrs Monday prime time news monitored from Zambia’s national and government broadcaster, ZNBC, Mr. Lungu made the remarks about the dead Barotseland agreement in New York while entertaining scores of Zambians based in the US.
Mr. Lungu is in New York for the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
This is not the first time he has personally made similar pronouncements over the matter at the sidelines of a major international forum, with the last such pronouncements having been made in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last year at the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit meetings early in his presidency.
IS IT TOO LITTLE TOO LATE?
In the run up to Zambia’s disputed 11th August presidential and general elections, Mr. Lungu, with his counterpart, Lubosi Imwiko II of Barotseland, set up a committee of mostly ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party sympathizers and compromised elements from Barotseland who he met at State House in Lusaka to purportedly prepare for the process of negotiations stage managed from State House. This move was widely seen to be an attempt to merely woo Barotse voters who responded by rejecting Mr. Lungu’s electioneering maneuvers. The entire region instead voted for Mr. Lungu’s main presidential challenger Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) in seeming protest to his failure to fulfill earlier public pronouncements made on the matter.
DOES LUNGU MEAN WELL FOR BAROTSELAND?
ABSOLUTELY NOT as far as the majority Barotse are concerned, and the argument is that if Mr. Lungu’s plans towards Barotseland were well-intentioned, he would not be arresting those Barotse who supposedly want the same good intentions for Barotseland. He was indeed going to collaborate with them and listen to them through open and honest dialogue rather than curtailing all dialogue initiated by the major stakeholders, the people, in preference to a selected clique of the ruling elite. Mr. Lungu and his government have instead continued to arrest and imprison all the Barotse that peacefully wish to resolve the 1964 Barotseland agreement conclusively. Therefore, simple logic and common sense proves that his wishes for Barotseland are not the same as the wishes of those he is arresting. It is clearly why he is using everything and everyone he can afford to buy with money to confuse, if not stop the vision for a self-determined Barotseland.
WHAT DO THE BAROTSE PEOPLE WANT?
The Zambian government now want to impose a dead ‘Treaty’ on the people of Barotseland that has long been rejected firstly by Zambia in 1969, and then by Barotseland in 2012, only because international pressure has lately been mounting on Lungu and his Zambian government to peacefully let the Barotse exercise their right of self-determination outside Zambia, after it failed to inure under the abrogated 1964 Barotseland Agreement.
Mr. Lungu’s present efforts have deliberately sidelined and excluded all major stakeholders in Barotseland and senior citizens who have been pursuing the Barotseland case. Some of those notably sidelined are leaders of the independence movement Linyungandambo; Afumba Mombotwa and a couple of his Barotseland transitional government members, who are still serving lengthy prison sentences at Mwembeshi Prison over the same matter that Lungu now wants to discuss with the select ruling party cadres masquerading as Barotseland representatives. Others conspicuously left out of Mr. Lungu’s proposed Barotseland discussion committee are the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) headed by former Ngambela Clement W Sinyinda.
However, and according to Mr. Lungu, the process will not be allowed to degenerate into ‘anarchy’ – whatever that means.
IS BAROTSELAND’S CONTINUED ZAMBIAN DOMINATION AN OPTION?
To the people of Barotseland, no solution deviating from the 27th March 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC) which called for the restoration of Barotseland sovereignty will be acceptable as BNC decisions are considered sacred and must be obeyed by all, including the Litunga of Barotseland. The BNC is the supreme and highest policy making body under Barotse governance, and in 2012, the council voted to accept Zambia’s termination of the 1964 treaty which attempted to unite the two British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland to form the unitary state of Zambia. All the major stakeholders in Barotseland are resolute in standing by the unanimous decisions of the 2012 BNC which is also the most representative organ in Barotse governance and represents the consensus of the Barotse nation in the same way a referendum would.
The 2012 decision set Barotseland on an unstoppable trajectory for independence, and some reports indicate that it has started receiving documented bilateral and diplomatic recognition. Therefore, the Zambian government will do well to be cautioned against imposing a ‘solution’ that will not be acceptable to the people of Barotseland, who are already pursuing national and international processes for the peaceful disengagement from Zambia guaranteed under various international laws and politics.
The words of wisdom, patriotism and nationalism indeed from the Editor General’s desk, which appeared in Barotseland Post of 3rd September, 2016 in an article entitled “Barotseland must awaken her sense of nationalism” deserve our utmost attention and echoing. Patriotism and Nationalism are more than imperative perspectives of Barotse Change. They are a must do and our life blood by now and I therefore wish to reiterate the same because of the profound significance, solemnity and impetus they transmit and bear in Barotseland nation regarding Barotse Change. It is a reality and theme that should excite and invigorate every minute of every Barotseland citizen. And I do hereby passionately plead, through this piece of writing, with any fellow citizen of mine still belligerent to the reality of our present truth and Barotse Change to introspect and get aboard the independence train to completely New Barotseland.
In his article Mr Sibeta Mundia emphasised that “A patriot will stand and fight because land and territory is under threat, but a nationalist must fight because identity, culture and values are undermined.” This premises my submission in this presentation.
THE ROLE PLAYED BY SILOZI (SEROTSE) LANGUAGE
This is our NATIONAL LANGUAGE and Lingua Franca alongside the OFFICIAL LANGUAGE English supported by the 38+ (actually 47 by October, 1964 official records) ethnic dialects. The role played by language can neither be underestimated nor overemphasised in efficient and effective communication of the Barotse culture, values and national identity in the community of Barotseland, especially so in instilling patriotism and nationalism. No wonder in Zambia today it is a celebrated success that most people can speak Bemba and/or Nyanja, one of the signs to them of their supposed power and dominance above all others in that country. In Mr Mungandi’s patriotic and nationalistic standpoint in the article of 28th August 2016 entitled “FACING REALITY: The ‘One Zambia One Nation’ fallacy put to a reality check” of Barotseland Post I totally agree with him that the ‘One Zambia, One Nation slogan is a fallacy that should be dismissed for it is really a myth now; actually it expired fifty years ago, as soon as it was phrased! So instead of One Zambia, One Nation we espouse our national Slogan LITUNGA IN LYETU while embodying the value of “One Barotseland, One Nation” in the spirit of our current truism of independent Barotseland. IT IS SHEER FOOLISHNESS for anyone to hope against Barotseland autonomy because there is no other truth about it other than the current status quo. The only relationship between Barotseland and ‘Zambia’ now is neighbourliness NOT slogans and the like.
There is need for concerted efforts by all stakeholders in Barotseland to ensure that this is a national priority campaign more than before, henceforth. Let the markets, buses, workplaces, homes and all over make the national language one indeed. In my recent visit to Mongu and Livingstone I were delighted to note that there is growing attention and progress in this regard with a few exceptions at bus ranks, markets and certain buslines especially those heading to Lusaka and Livingstone where our people are still forced to speak the foreign languages reminiscent of black on black colonialism! Much more needs to be done to redress the situation in this regard.
THE ROLE PLAYED BY TECHNOLOGY, MUSIC AND DRAMA
Barotse shoppers need to be commended in this area for having embraced Barotse Technology by playing the soft copies of Lozi books for the restoration of our Silozi jargon and sayings much for the benefit and interest of the lost and disillusioned youths and adults. The entertainment world and art industry need our commendation too for the music and drama we see around embracing Barotseland technology and a Proudly Barotseland Product mindset. More still needs to be done in these areas though. Our local artist should know that their newest releases are ever overdue and the Barotse populace is eagerly awaiting the purchase of the anticipated new products; imagine how beautiful! It is all about using the amalgamated power of patriotism, nationalism and national symbols in the public domain to enhance the ultimate resolve of our Barotse Change; the 2012 BNC Resolutions and UDI Mandate. Music and drama have their own unique way of driving points home. It is not surprising therefore, to see these intellectual property products being widely used in political campaigns, commercial advertisements, worship services and other social gatherings to drive the point home.
GETTING TO ACTION!
Seeing how important the subject of patriotism and nationalism is it becomes mandatory and an open high level classified recommendation and priority that our people, as Barotzish, we start dressing ourselves, our properties and drapery in the national colours in trying to instils these virtues and reality in us and thus raise high the Barotseland National Flag. This is very necessary in removing the veil and plague of identity crisis among our people, replacing them with ‘Tukongote wa mwanaa Nongolo’ Slogan and Proudly Barotzish mindset, in branding our new nation; just because birds of the same feathers (colour, culture, etc.) fly together. We cannot wait for BTG’s official raising of the National Flag for us to individually fly it high somewhere, somehow. You can pledge 2016 onwards to be the special times of these colours’ emphasis or focus in our homestead or workplaces in our own way of choice. Neither can we wait for the issuance of national identity documents (Zibahazo or Situpa, Bukana ya Musipili or Passport) for us to clarify the issues of identity crisis – your natural self is first class bonafide identity you are endowed with in branding yourself and our Barotseland. That is one of the best salient ways, in my view we can manifest the patriotism and nationalism in advocacy here.
The most unfortunate present reality is that our history will have recorded that the greatest tragedy of our period of Barotse Change was not due to the harsh obstruction by the unscrupulous, dishonest, unprincipled, dodgy, corrupt, ruthless and scavenging Zambian politicians, rather the scandalous silence of some good people who are unpatriotic, unnationalistic Barotzish and some of our international fraternity; those who could do something positive regarding the political stalemate between Barotseland and Zambia but have chosen to keep quiet for whatever reasons! Which side are you?
WRAPPING UP OF THE WHOLE MATTER!
By engaging in patriotic and nationalistic activities we are INSTILLING THE MUCH NEEDED NEW THINKING AND MINDSET CHANGE IN THE NEW BAROTSELAND, IN PLACE OF THE BOGGLED SERVITUDE MINDSET. One way you can do this is to promote the use of the national symbols like Silozi language, Barotseland National Flag and its colours and Barotseland National anthem as ringing tones or others. Procrastination is a thief of time. Like Prof. Imenda Sitwala rightly stated in his last article in Barotseland Post dated 18th August, 2016 “There is a difference between being unable to see and refusing to see.” IS IT TRUE THAT YOU CAN’T SEE OR YOU ARE REFUSING TO SEE THAT YOU ARE A LOZI NATIONAL AND BAROTSELAND CITIZEN? CAN IT BE TRUE THAT YOU CAN’T READ ALL AVAILABLE EVIDENCE OR YOU ARE JUST DEFYING THE TRUTH THAT BAROTSELAND AND ZAMBIA ARE TWO SEPARATE COUNTRIES NOW? HOW POSSIBLE CAN IT BE THAT YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OR YOU ARE REFUSING TO HEAR, LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHEN ZAMBIA SAYS “NO LOZI WILL EVER RULE ZAMBIA”? We have never been Zambians really; the truth very much known in the most privileged inner circles in Zambia, only when it suited KK’s deception philosophy and his plan to obliterate our nation and country Barotseland. We cannot afford to continue being profligate about Barotse Change Truth and its ideals, especially so at a late hour like now when the handwriting is clear on both the Barotseland and Zambian walls! The time for rogue citizenship and benefits thereof is numbered up! As for me Barotse Change truth has really liberated me from the many questions I used to ask myself and no one will be able to take away the truth from me.
Tukongote wa Mwanaa Nongolo. Litunga ni lyetu.
Zambia state police are alleged to have killed three young people in Lusaka for merely wishing to peacefully gather and rally with their opposition political party of choice. It is widely believed that the police were carrying out orders from ‘higher’ command, reportedly from the outgoing president Edgar Lungu, in his desperation to stop his main presidential challenger of the opposition party, Hakainde Hichilema, from wrestling power from him in the August 2016 polls. On the material day, Friday, 8th July, 2016, the police are said to have used teargas, gun bayonets, rubber bullets and live ammunition on the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres to try and stop them from attending a political campaign meeting the police had earlier authorized in one of the densely populated part of the capital, Chawama, saying the rally had been suddenly cancelled on security grounds.
The senseless killing of the three members of the opposition party supporters has sparked widespread anger and condemnation, and rightly so. Any arbitrary extrajudicial killing of innocent citizens in their exercise of constitutional rights of assembly, freedom of expression, choice and conscience should make horrendous reading anywhere in the world. What is more appalling is that the suspected killers are the police who are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all citizens freely enjoy these rights as offered in the national constitution. Zambians have every right to be angry and demand that the responsible murderers are prosecuted.
What is more atrocious, however, is that this whole episode reminds the Barotse of what they went through on the 14th of January 2011, when at the hands of the same brutal state police, nineteen (19), and not two or three innocent Lozi people, including two infants, were killed as the police shot, bayoneted and tear gassed a peaceful procession of Lozi who had similarly wanted to go and attend a peaceful public gathering in Mongu. The injured were denied medical attention as both the Red Cross and Lewanika Hospital medical staff were threatened by the killer police not to dare render any attention to them. The state killings or rather massacres were unprovoked as the Barotse were unarmed and peaceful. Their only crime was to desire to gather peacefully with their traditional and royal leadership so that they could deliberate on the future of their political and social participation in the country they have known since 1964 to be theirs. The Barotse have a legitimate political grievance that is no fault of theirs, and they have every right to seek peaceful redress on what they believe is wrong with their citizenship in Zambia. As a people that can read, and also having been tutored by their parents, the Barotse argue that they only became part of Zambia through the conditional and express terms of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 signed with Northern Rhodesia and the British, which never saw the light of day because Kenneth Kaunda’s first Zambian government unilaterally repudiated and abrogated it by 1969. Consequently, they rightly felt cheated and peacefully wished to know how and why the people of Barotseland should be termed as ‘Zambians’ in the absence of the 1964 pre-independence treaty that would have legally sealed their Zambian citizenship.
However, perhaps the Lozi like the UPND members were so naïve and deluded to believe that the Zambian constitutional provisions of freedom of association, conscience and freedom of expression were indeed real. Alas, that dark 14th day of January 2011, and somewhat the incident of last week Friday the 8th of July 2016, may have just proved that human rights in Zambia are a façade and a preserve of only a few. Perhaps one needed to belong to a special breed or section of Zambia to enjoy certain constitutional rights to the fullest. It is reported that while members of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party, enjoy free assembly, free expression and easy daily access to the national media, the UPND like the Barotse are denied the same. In fact, it is reported that the only free independent media that gave coverage to the Zambian opposition parties were either threatened or completely shut down by the state, a fate too familiar with any media that has dared to cover Barotseland issues differently from the state propaganda on the matter.
HOW MUST THE BAROTSE FEEL AT THE STATE POLICE KILLING OF 19 IN 2011?
In 2011, the Barotse also sadly learnt that Zambians, unlike now when they have spoken in outrage at the killing of the three UPND cadres, were largely and conspicuously silent during their gruesome ordeal. Even the Zambian church, human rights watch groups and the Zambian legal fraternity all went mute in the face of such state instigated atrocities against the Lozi. In fact, the many Zambians who spoke through various social media platforms actually mocked them and spoke of how the Barotse ‘deserved’ being ‘dealt with’ in such a heavy-handed manner from the government and state agents. It was not uncommon to read on many such platforms cruel mockery of ‘kufipaya fye!’ meaning the Lozi deserved to be killed as they were allegedly 'stingy' and/or 'selfish'.
Unfortunately, what many Zambians don’t know is that 14th January 2011 was the turning point for most Lozis as they realized that they were actually an 'undesirable' group of people in Zambia to the extent that instead of drawing strength and support from the Zambian public, they were being mocked in their repression.
In the present sad situation, however, we see solidarity to the opposition and the innocent killed, and this is how it should be. In fact, the Zambians should have recommended another day of national prayer, fasting and repentance at this sad and barbaric killing of the innocent young souls. However and sadly so, in the case of the innocent Barotse killings in 2011, no one has to this day ever apologized or taken responsibility from the national leadership for the death of the 19 Lozi. There were no official funerals, but government leaders were seen trying to outdo one another in their justification of the shooting of the Lozi, through their propaganda media and their parliament, and the people of Barotseland were portrayed as criminal ‘secessionists’ who had committed the capital crime of 'treason' by allegedly seeking to set the so-called peaceful Christian country on fire.
Yet, these assertions were lies and mere propaganda, as the Rodger Chongwe commission of inquiry draft leak would show later, that in fact this was an act of senseless killing of unarmed Barotse. The Zambian government even lied through their propaganda national media ZNBC that only two (2) people were killed; one for wanting to set a service (gas or filling) station ablaze while the other was killed by a strayed bullet. The government constituted Chongwe commission of inquiry, however, would later reveal that actually 19 people died instead of two. Although, the inquiry findings have never been made public, this singular fact was preempted by Dr. Rodger Chongwe himself, a renowned lawyer and chairperson of the commission, as he officially submitted the commission's conclusive findings to fifth republican president Michael Sata.
Can Zambians imagine how this senseless killing must feel in the hearts and minds of the Barotse? Is it any wonder that many Lozi are no longer interested in Zambia, but have simply adopted a silent revolt, like the now growing ‘watermelon revolution’ where UPND cadres wear green PF party regalia on the outside while their under garments are the red regalia of the opposition party for fear of reprisals from the violent PF cadres? The Lozi in Zambia have similarly had to learn how to bear their pain and heartache in silence because they know that if they openly showed their emotional distress caused by their torturous existence in Zambia, they would attract government and police reprisals without any Zambian sympathy. In fact, the quickest way for any Lozi to get imprisonment today is voice out publicly or audibly what one really thinks about Barotseland. What is distressing is that to the Lozi, Barotseland is home, and now they are forbidden to even talk freely or read literature about Bulozi (Barotseland), their home land!
If the death of one or three Zambians at the hands of the state police hurt Zambians so much, can one imagine how the similar senseless killing of 19 innocent Lozi must feel in the hearts of the Barotse?
It is no longer a secret that the 14th January 2011 Barotse massacres were so gratuitous that even the presidency seems too ashamed to release the findings of the Chongwe commission four years after it was submitted, although the inquiry gobbled over K5 billion (about USD1 million) tax payers’ money at the time.