To be honest, Sata like his predecessors was brutal to Barotseland, but because of culture we will say ‘He was a good man’ - Opinion by Mukela Mwendoi

02 November 2014
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There is a great pressure to try to launder the demised Zambian leader, Michael Sata’s name mainly because of the culture of most Zambian people. Like one Zambian singer, B1, bluntly put it a year ago in his song, “He was a good man.” However, truth be told Sata was just as brutal to Barotseland as his predecessors before him, if not more.

I am immediately drawn to the command Sata issued publicly to his military, and as commander in chief of his armed forces, in the presence of SADC heads of security forces when he said, “…go to Lukulu(Barotseland), and when you hear them (Lozis) say ‘eni sha’ just fire…when you hear them say ‘faa, faa’, just fire (at them)” as he expressly set a tone on how he wanted his army to deal with the people of Barotseland demanding their rights to self-determination. This was probably the lowest he had sunk to in as far as his hatred for Barotseland was concerned.

 

Remember he had already mocked the Litunga, and called the Lozi king as a thief who had ‘stolen’ from other tribal land and gave to the British in exchange for a British guard’s uniform? He had threatened to use his ‘pen’ to deal with the Litunga if he entertained secessionists in his kingdom in apparent reference to possibly ‘de-gazetting’ him, as he seemed to believe he had power to do so.

Remember, also that it is the same man who commanded the arrest of hundreds of Barotse nationals, including 13 year old children, old women and the physically challenged man, and had them incarcerated for over four months in the most brutal way after charging them with trump up charge of treason punishable by death upon conviction in Zambian courts of law. This was after they were accused of celebrating the announcement of a transitional government in Barotseland in pursuit of the 27th March Barotse National Council that unanimously resolved to accept the unilateral nullification of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 by Zambia, and also resolved that Barotseland immediately initiate all formal and necessary procedures and acts for the re-establishment of Barotseland Sovereignty and Independence, a de facto break away from its current disputed underlying status within the Republic of Zambia. And yet he refused to sign a petition initiated by the BNFA to have the matter of Barotseland tried by neutral arbitration at the Hague.

Mr. Sata made so many promises to Barotseland, none of which he has fulfilled, although now monitoring the comments of some Zambians, are being parroted as some of his achievements for Barotseland, even when they don’t exist, such as the nonexistent Mongu ultra modern stadium, King Lewanika University and now Senanga University, all which he is praised to have given to Barotseland?

Above all remember how he deceived the people of Barotseland prior to the 2011 presidential and general election, calling himself the chief ‘Linyungandambo’ the leading Barotseland independence movement? Prior to president Michael Chilufya Sata winning the 2011 presidential election as 5th republican president, he was on public record making an electoral promise, severally, to the Barotse people through the media and at public election campaign rallies, that he and his Patriotic Front government would restore and honour the long disputed Barotseland Agreement of 1964 within 90 days of assuming presidential office if he and his political party won that particular election. He went on further to say that there was nothing to fear about the agreement. Sata was widely covered by both private and public national media.

Commenting on then Vice-President George Kunda’s meeting with the Litunga of Barotseland, the Ngambela and some senior Barotse Indunas in Limulunga held on Tuesday, 4th January 2011, Sata said that the Barotse Agreement was real.

“The Barotse Agreement is still a valid agreement,” Sata said. “How can you ignore an agreement that was signed, sealed and delivered almost 47 years ago?”
Sata maintained that the Barotse Agreement was still legitimate and President Rupiah Banda simply needed to show honour by acknowledging its validity and existence.

“There is no honest person who can deny the existence and validity of the Barotse Agreement. And those with honour and integrity honour valid agreements they have entered into whether they still like them or not,” Sata said.

“The PF government will honour the Barotse Agreement without hesitation because we have no problems with it. We see nothing wrong with it.”

Sata said Zambians needed to learn to live in a country of diversity and that it was also a fundamental principle even in international law for successive governments to honour agreements they find.

“We have always said we have nothing to fear about the Barotse Agreement. It is a decent agreement that must be honoured,” Sata said.

“Only crooks, dictators who want everything to be controlled by them from Lusaka can fear the Barotse Agreement.”
Sata said the Barotse Agreement was not about secession but a higher and advanced form of national unity.

“How can an agreement that brought our country together as a unitary sovereign state be seen to be a divisive instrument; to be about secession and treason?” Sata wondered.

“The Barotse Agreement united and brought together what was not united; what was divided. It is an agreement that brought unity in diversity to our people and as such must be honoured and respected.”

He said intimidation and threats of treason would not resolve the matter.

“How can an agreement that exists be treasonable? That agreement is real, so what’s treasonous about that? In fact, the peace and unity that Zambia has enjoyed since independence as a sovereign state can be partly attributed to the Barotse Agreement,” Sata said.

“PF would like to see to it that Zambia remains an oasis of peace by engaging the people of Barotseland over the Barotse Agreement and ensure that their grievances are resolved once and for all.”

However, in spite of all the above open and public political assurances Mr. Sata made as an opposition leader, while seeking the Barotse vote, nor sooner had he assumed political office than he too had treated the Barotse people no different from his predecessors, recording the highest number of detentions and mass arrests, with over 84 Barotse people arrested and tried for treason over the abrogated Barotseland Agreement 1964 at one point.

While it is true that many Barotse nationals may wish to mourn with Zambia over president Sata’s passing, it is farfetched to expect them to sing his praises. However, we wish Zambia a peaceful transition in this second national tragedy of losing a sitting president in six years.

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