In the case of Barotseland Agreement 1964, and through the 2012 BNC, a referendum of sorts in Barotseland terms, the Barotse have now accepted the 1969 Acts of parliament that terminated it. BNC is the supreme organ of Barotse governance and has been used from time immemorial to make nation altering decisions, including the very decision to sign the 1964 agreement in the same way a popular national referendum would be constituted in other countries to decide the future of their nation. Take the recent Brexit in the UK as an example.
It must be further noted that, since the signing of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was preceded by a BNC decision, similarly, its termination must be preceded by another BNC decision.
BNC is a national consultative process employed in Barotseland to consult the entire nation when need demands. Decisions are collected from the family level in every village and county, all the way to the district level, whose collective decisions are then presented at the Barotse National Council constituted by the King of Barotseland. Unanimous decisions passed at the BNC are binding to all, including the King, as they are the voice of the Barotse nation. Such was the 27th March, 2012 BNC.
Most importantly, what are the implications and consequences of the termination of the 1964 pre-independence treaty?
The issue is not that the Zambian Government entered the Agreement in bad faith, but that they terminated it unilaterally and that Barotseland has also accepted the termination of the agreement. If, therefore, one expresses oneself over the terminated agreement, why and how is that a criminal offense according to Zambian laws? What must the Barotse do in this situation? Can they not have the recourse to international law or human rights conventions?
SECESSION AND THE BAROTSE
The Barotse wish to know the definition and meaning of ‘SECESSION’ in regards to Barotseland, and who is to provide the meaning? Not every movement seeking independence is seceding; each movement has to be examined on its own merits. For instance, why aren’t Scottish people advocating the independence of Scotland regarded as secessionists?
Assuming that secession means to break away, can somebody prove how Barotseland and Zambia were joined or united? Was there a Union Act? Was there any Federal Constitution? Or were they not joined by the 1964 Agreement? In the absence of a Union Act or Federal Constitution, who is seceding or breaking away? Is reverting to their pre-agreement status secession?
The 1964 agreement was not only terminated but actually did not enter into force. Legal axiom states ‘the agreement that has not entered into force is not legally binding.’ This being true, what then legally binds or links Barotseland to Zambia? The answer is nothing! So, what kind of occupation of peoples’ territory is this? As the case is, does the international community or world order encourage forced annexation?
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS AND THE BAROTSE
The people of Barotseland want to be considered as a 'people' with their own sovereignty, and they want to be provided with satisfactory answers as to why Barotseland should not exist as a nation. Maybe the rhetorical question is, are the Barotse a people or not? The term ‘people of Barotseland’ appears five times in the Barotseland Agreement 1964, therefore, if they are a people just like other peoples elsewhere, then they deserve the rights accorded to other peoples.
Another disturbing question is who gave Zambia sovereignty over Barotseland? Does international law allow or accept the deprivation of peoples' sovereignty? If one has to talk about the territorial integrity of Zambia, the question is, what about the territorial integrity of Barotseland? What solution can be offered when the agreement is terminated?
The intended purpose of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 did not materialize; the intention was to provide internal self-determination, but the Zambian Government rejected it. When the agreement is terminated, must people have to go to a referendum? Are we dealing with the principle of law or what? Are we guided by hopes, opinions and wishes of Zambia's sympathizers or do we want to deal with law and justice combined with realities, facts and figures?
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE BAROTSE
The separate existence of Barotseland is indisputable. The order-in-council of 1962 through section 57 also recognized and confirmed the separate existence of Barotseland. Scholars of international law recognize the historical sovereign status of Barotseland from Northern Rhodesia/Zambia.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE BAROTSE
Internal self-determination as a compromise was a preference of the Barotse in 1964, and this is what was rejected and deleted by Zambia; this has cost Lozi people their lives and caused misery to many. If it is now advocated, it would mean moving in circles, and this would imply disregarding those who were slain, and those whose limbs were amputated and those incarcerated over this matter without compensation from Zambia, and it might most definitely mean continued misery to the Barotse.
Moving from independence to a colony of Zambia was painful. According to records, no single Lozi was ever killed by the British in Barotseland the way Zambia has killed them. Going from sovereignty to internal self-determination under the belly of Zambia is retrogressive as Zambia could continue killing Barotse.
Does the international community consider self-determination and independence as a crime? If what is considered a human right by international law is deemed as crime by the domestic law of Zambia, what should Barotse do? Is it prudent to cooperate with the one who enslaves or dominates and colonizes you?
According to the Barotse, declaration of independence in this case does not violate international law. Nothing special has been written on the existence of the state. While the formation of state is a matter of fact and not law, the Barotse, however, feel legal opinion is important.
If you have logical answers to these and many other questions raised in Part 01 which could prove that Barotse are ill-conceived in their demand for self-determination, Barotseland Post would like to publish them in order to dissuade the Lozi from claiming rights they do not necessarily have.
Answer questions on Barotseland logically to stop Barotse from agitating for self-determination – Zambians Challenged, Part 01 can be found here: