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.