A stubborn fly will follow a corpse to its grave and will be buried with it! Similarly, the dead Barotseland Agreement 1964 has been a source of livelihood for some stubborn dishonest clique in the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and some elite Lozi who shamelessly use it to siphon money from the Zambian government. Like flies clung to a corpse, these cunning individuals continue to hang onto the dead 1964 agreement for financial and political capital.
The Zambian government and President Lungu, in particular, knows that Barotseland’s impending self-determination is no-longer a joke as even the international community is fast picking up on it. Lungu and his government must feel this international momentum for they have to answer numerous questions about the Barotseland situation every time they step out of Zambia. Remember also that this issue officially reached the echelons of the African Union, through the Human Rights Commission at the Banjul court, having been taken there by the BRE under Ngambela Wainyae Sinyinda. Other than that, institutions such as SADC and the UN, and several countries in the region and beyond have also received emissaries and written submissions on the Barotseland situation. Although these may not have publicly acknowledged keen interest in the matter, there is evidence that they actually do inquire about its progression from various government and state operatives, including the President, whenever they travel out on international duties.
Increasingly, the international community must be getting tired of hearing the same dismissive answer that calls for Barotseland independence are coming from a few disgruntled politicians who had since fallen from grace or that it was the handiwork of a few rabble-rousers who will be dealt with by law enforcement agencies! It would actually appear that some in the international community want more specific answers.
President Edgar Lungu, like his predecessor, Michael Sata, has more than once made some sweeping public pronouncements about Barotseland at home and on international podiums which he has not honored, several years later. The international community, who may have heard him, will naturally wait for implementation of these commitments.
More importantly, although Zambia has consistently denied having political prisoners within her jails, the arrest and imprisonment of Barotseland independence leaders Afumba Mombotwa, Likando Pelekelo and Inambao Kalima has actually not gone unnoticed. We can authoritatively confirm that various governments and concerned international bodies have indeed been following their incarceration. Further, it is quite astonishing how many international publishers, authors, academicians, media institutions, researchers and various government operatives have actually requested news and documentation about these Barotse political prisoners in Zambia and about Barotseland generally.
Reports of international books, documentaries, and academic research papers being published on the Barotseland story are now commonplace even on international media such as VOA, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, ENCA and Channel Africa to name but a few. In fact, one notable International Atlas & Map publisher has gone as far as including Barotseland on the world map, among fifty other nations seeking international recognition which is currently being distributed by Macmillan Publishers.
Locally, the people of Barotseland and their associated territories continue to reject the ruling PF and President Lungu in favor of opposition UPND and Hakainde Hichilema in every successive national election since the Patriotic Front reneged on its electoral promise to implement the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 within ninety days of setting government in 2011. So, as Lungu runs out of options, he now must resort to the old colonial strategy of divide and rule! He wishes to divide Barotseland not only along ethnicity but also by pitting the King and his Royal Establishment against the people.
Knowing that the people of Barotseland want full independence as officially communicated to government through the March 2012 Barotse National Council resolutions, the Ngambela and Others Vs Zambia at the AU Banjul Court, the Rodger Chongwe Commission of Inquiry report, Royal Barotseland Government intention to sue at the ICJ distributed to the Zambian government and all foreign governments accredited to the republic of Zambia by Barotseland’s Botswana based Legal Representative, Madandume & Associates, BNFA’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) process by their legal representative, Dugu’ & Kirtley AARPI, the recent BNFA presentation at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Republic of Zambia and several other ongoing processes, Lungu now wishes to set the Litunga and BRE on a collision course with the people of Barotseland.
Realizing that the current Zambian created and government-aligned BRE are uncertain and insecure about their future role in independent Barotseland, Lungu has decided to offer them immediate financial rewards, turning them against the people’s resolute demands for Barotseland independence and pursue the ‘restoration’ of the dead agreement instead of the total independence they crave for.
Additionally, Lungu has continued to erroneously assure the BRE that as King of Barotseland, the Litunga should be able to make unilateral decisions on the future of Barotseland. What Lungu does not understand, however, is that the Kingdom of Barotseland is not like that of Morocco or Swaziland (eSwatini) where their respective Kings wield such arbitral and unilateral powers. Rather, it is like the United Kingdom or the Kingdom of Lesotho where national political decisions are made by the people. This is not to say the Barotse monarch is powerless. No! Its immense power is in the people. The strength of Barotseland is in its nationals, which is why it will last for as long as its people. The Litunga and his people are one, and there is no Litunga without the people! The Litunga is King of Barotseland and not King of Zambia! LUBOSI IMWIKO II WILL NOT BE KING IF HE IS SEPARATED FROM THE BAROTSE, AND THIS SEEMS TO BE LUNGU’S ENDGAME!
Therefore, instead of coveting powers they do not own, the BRE ought to have resolutely declined Lungu’s ridiculous offer, explaining to him that in reality the people alone, through the Barotse National Council, have the final say on national matters! They ought to have told Lungu that, like in the United Kingdom and Lesotho, the King of Barotseland can never make political decisions against his people. He is royally bound to honor their decisions and could only act on the recommendations of the people!
Alas! The BRE has instead embarked on a political trajectory completely against the 2012 BNC independence resolutions, while Lungu sits by to watch them fight against the rest of Barotseland for him! It is his struggle, and he is merely using the BRE as his stooges!
The BRE must be warned that Lungu is using them to fight their own Kingdom! They must be encouraged to accept that the 1964 Barotseland agreement is dead and must be buried so that Barotseland can enter a new dispensation as a sovereign Kingdom State, able to determine its own socio-economic and political future. They must be reminded that Lewanika I, Yeta III, Imwiko I, Mwanawina III, Lewanika II, Yeta IV and all others before them will not lie idle and see Barotseland mortgaged to a foreign power!