PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has turned to his bitter regional rival Botswana President Ian Khama for a model to exploit diamonds to fuel economic development in Zimbabwe.
Khama has consistently rejected President Mugabe’s re-election as fraudulent and has often spoken out about Zimbabwe’s political crisis.
Nothwithstanding the frosty relationship, Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa will visit Botswana on July 2 to study the diamond model in Botswana — the world’s leading diamond producer by value.
Chidhakwa on Wednesday confirmed that he would be visiting Botswana on July 2.
He said he has also been to Namibia and South Africa to study their models and now wants to look at the Botswana model as he works on his plans to consolidate the diamond mining companies into one entity, with 50% government shareholding as is the case in Botswana. The government of Botswana mines diamonds in partnership with South African giant De Beers.
“Diamond mining is a very difficult sector,” said Chidhakwa. “It is difficult to monitor and manage, but if we consolidated the companies into one and have one monitoring mechanism the model of consolidation will allow for better monitoring thereby reduce the leakages.”
He added: “I will be going to Botswana to look at their model. We are relatively a new diamond-mining country.”
Botswana has used diamonds to develop the country from being a mostly rural backwater at Independence in 1966 to a booming economy.
While Zimbabwe was the second most industrialised country in the region after South Africa at Independence in 1980, it has since largely become a shell due to the de-industrialisation characterised by company closures and job losses, largely blamed on mismanagement of the economy.
More than 7 000 workers were retrenched last year alone and more than 1 000 workers from 67 companies have lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2015.
At least 55 000 workers have been rendered redundant after 4 610 companies closed shop countrywide between 2011 and 2014, according to Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa in his 2015 national budget statement.
Top government sources said this week a request for the visit to Botswana to look at its diamond model was made by Mugabe in a meeting with Khama during his visit to that country last month.
This is a surprise development as Mugabe and Khama have a not-so-cordial relationship despite Mugabe’s claims that relations with his counterpart are genial.
Khama has repeatedly rejected Mugabe’s re-election, saying the polls were stolen.
The Botswana president hardly ever agrees with Mugabe at regional meetings such as Sadc and the African Union, with the latest case being on presidential term limits and the International Criminal Court from which Mugabe wants African countries to withdraw saying it is targeting African heads of state.
At the just-ended AU summit Mugabe said African leaders had made a mistake by endorsing legislation which sets a two- term presidential limit.
“It is a democracy, if people want a leader to continue, let him continue.”
However, Khama disagreed.
“… There comes a time where we think that once you get into office and you’ve been there for 10 years (two five-year terms), really that is enough, you should make way and let others come in,” Khama said a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile, Chidhakwa wants the mining companies to merge into one firm, in a move meant to streamline their operations while curbing leakages.
The move comes after most diamond mining companies in the Marange area of Manicaland failed to account for revenues they realised in their mining operations, save for Mbada Diamonds which in March last year declared to parliament that it had surpassed the US$1 billion turnover mark.
Chidhakwa’s plans also come after years of complaints from within government and ordinary Zimbabweans, civil society and opposition parties that diamond revenues were not finding their way to Treasury, but were being used to line pockets of top politicians and service chiefs through shady deals. Zimbabwe is the world’s fourth-largest diamond miner, producing an estimated eight million carats with potential to supply 25% of global demand. However, the country is in the midst of an economic crisis and has little to show for its diamond wealth.
Seven companies were operating in Chiadzwa, namely Mbada, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Gye Nyame, Jinan Ming Private Ltd, Kusena and Marange Resources.
Chidhakwa in an interview on Wednesday said the consolidation process would involve the merging of the wholly government-owned Marange Resources with the other diamond mining companies, including Murowa and River Ranch.
“The problem in Zimbabwe is that we have companies in Chiadzwa that were opportunistic and speculative. What we are now trying to do is to resolve that problem,” he said.
“We want to do it through consolidation. There is a basic way of doing it (sharing); 50 divided by let’s say seven. But it will not be equal sharing because they have different levels of capitalisation. We then say we are using net-asset-value of each company. You take the net asset value of Mbada, Anjin and others and you add them and come up with the total net asset value.
“You calculate Anjin as a percentage of the total and Mbada the same, and everybody gets their share. Because we now say that there is no limit, this company will mine all diamonds in the country and there is no other company that will be allowed to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe besides that framework. Everyone is coming on board – Murowa and River Ranch,” he said.
Chidhakwa said the companies would have latitude to do exploration across the country in the context of that bigger entity.
He said they would calculate how much equipment is required to mine the diamonds and its value; each company would then be required to inject capital, depending on the shareholding — like a rights issue.
If some fail to raise the money they will then be diluted and the bigger companies can buy additional shareholding.
“This mining is not for mickey-mouse miners, but serious mining across the country. The problem is that when you look at the agreements we signed, all the companies were expected to inject money either in the form of cash or equipment and it is in the agreements.
“If you go and look at what they (diamond mining firms) have injected, it’s generally less than half because some went on to lease equipment. When you calculate net-asset-value, the leased equipment is not included. So the panic now is that they are looking at what they are coming in with. Out of the lot, only one company brought about 45% of what was originally agreed on. That is where the first stage of company resistance is,” he said.
The second stage of resistance has to do with the loss of positions. The consolidation will mean one board, one CEO and one finance director.
Chidhakwa is considering two possible security systems at diamond mining fields: one where they will fire drones with cameras and another where they will use balloons with cameras to monitor activities on the ground to try and curb leakages.
It is expected that greater transparency in diamond mining will help revive the country’s ailing economy.
A South African court has issued an interim order stopping Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir, who faces war crimes charges, from leaving the country.
The Pretoria High Court says Mr Bashir must stay until it rules on Monday on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
President Bashir is in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit.
He is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict.
About 400,000 people have died and more than two million have fled their homes since rebels took up arms in 2003, the UN says.
Government forces and allied Arab militias are accused of targeting black African civilians in the fight against the rebels.
President Bashir was welcomed by South African officials as he arrived in Johannesburg. After the court announced it would rule on a request to arrest him, he posed for a group photo with other African leaders.
The High Court initially said it would issue its ruling on Sunday. But it later postponed the hearing until Monday, when the summit is due to end.
There are tensions between the ICC and the AU, with some on the continent accusing the court of unfairly targeting Africans.
The warrants against Mr Bashir, who denies the allegations, have restricted his overseas travel. He has, however, visited friendly states in Africa and the Middle East.
ANALYSIS: ANDREW HARDING, BBC AFRICA CORRESPONDENT
South Africa has often shied away from this sort of diplomatic headache, but this time the government has stepped straight, and deliberately, into controversy, courting Western fury by rolling out the welcome carpet for President Bashir.
The South African government must, surely, have foreseen the possibility of a legal challenge. If President Bashir is allowed to return home unimpeded, South Africa's actions will be bitterly condemned internationally - if less loudly within the continent - as a blow against the credibility of the ICC.
And if Sudan's president is detained, or perhaps even arrested, then Pretoria will be accused of luring a fellow African leader into a trap. Some would call that a no-win situation.
But it's clear that South Africa's government has chosen to flaunt its growing antipathy towards "Western" rules, and towards a court in which so many African leaders now appear to have lost faith.
SUDAN'S BLOODY STALEMATE
The ICC relies on member states to carry out arrests.
However correspondents have said the South African government - a signatory to the treaty establishing the ICC - is unlikely to move against the Sudanese leader.
South Africa's governing ANC said immunity had been granted to "all (summit) participants as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gathering of the AU or even the United Nations".
The ANC also said the ICC was "no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended".
The court, which sits in The Hague, was set up in 2002 to try cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, when national courts cannot handle them.
The official theme of the Johannesburg summit, chaired by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, is women's empowerment and development - BBC.COM
THE BAROTSE PARK 1898 - A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BAROTSE PARK
The piece of land historically known as the Barotse Park was designated thus because it was the site on which numerous protocols between King Lewanika and his successors on one part and the agents of British South Africa Company and later the British Crown on the other part were negotiated and sealed. From its inception, the Barotse Park was a soft spot of encounter between the settler communities and the indigenous people of Zambia. The following are some of the important meetings that were held on the site:
1898 THE LAWLEY TREATY
The Company asked its senior representative the Rt. Honourable Captain Arthur Lawley, then resident in Bulawayo (Matebeleland), Southern Rhodesia, to inform Major Robert Coryndon, then resident commissioner in Barotseland-North Western Rhodesia who resided at Kalomo, the then capital of North-Western Rhodesia to officially request the Litunga of Barotseland Lubosi Lewanika to meet at the Victoria Falls. The three party talks were aimed at consolidating territorial jurisdiction and the treaties that Lewanika had earlier agreed with Harry Ware in 1889 and Frank Lochner in 1890, whereas these treaties culminated into THE BAROTSELAND-NORTH WESTERN RHODESIA ORDER-IN-COUNCIL of 1899. The talks were scheduled to take place on 25th June 1898 at Victoria Falls, but the high water level of the Zambezi River affected the preparations of receiving the Litunga as the surroundings of the Old Drift or Sekute's Drift were damp and muddy. The Coryndon Administration, after consultations, decided to change the venue to a higher and dry ground on the Sandbelt. The site that was chosen was where Lubosi Lewanika's Royal Pavilion was constructed. Talks were held between the Litunga and the British Resident Commissioner in Barotseland-North Western Rhodesia on the one part and representatives or agents of John Cecil Rhodes of the British South Africa Company on the other part, agreed to provide a path for the British South Africa Company (BSAC) to proceed to the north bank of the Zambezi river, constructing the railway from Cape to Cairo. It was at this site where the Lawley treaty was concluded.
IN 1900 CONCESSION A AND B
Following the passing of THE BAROTSELAND-NORTH WESTERN RHODESIA ORDER-IN-COUNCIL which was passed in 1899, two concessions were signed at this site. The first one was Concession A which was commonly known as LEWANIKA'S TREATY. The second Concession B was signed in November of the same year. The treaty was for the mining syndicate and for sanctioning the British South Africa Company to generate hydro-electric power from the Zambezi at the Victoria Falls for usage in the mining industry on the Copperbelt. In 1901, the said concessions were ratified.
1901 CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE
The Constitutional Conference was held at this site to ratify the two treaties agreed to in 1900. This lead to the subsequent naming of the Sandbelt on which this site was situated The Constitution Hill. At the same time the site was named the Barotse Centre in honour of King Lubosi Lewanika, his council and the people involved in the advancement of development in the territory of North-Western Rhodesia.
In 1902, the Litunga Lubosi Lewanika was invited to attend the coronation ceremony of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria in England. The Barotse Centre at the heart of the Constitution Hill is where the Litunga bade farewell to his council and the people who wished him a safe journey. It was at this same site where Lewanika assured and impressed the crowd that feared for his safety, by planting his royal walking stick into the ground as a sign that would predict whether his entourage was safe. This historic event was evident enough that the Litunga Lubosi Lewanika's royal wooden walking stick germinated, rooted, branched off and grew into a big tree. Lewanika's way back from England at the end of 1902 in December was welcomed by a great royal traditional guard of honour at the Barotse Centre, which he marked by the unforgettable legacy. The Litunga arrived at his capital Lealui at New Year's first day of 1903 to a thunderous welcome, which was anti-climaxed as the final briefing was about his mother Inonge who had died.
Gradually, more settlers arrived in the Victoria Falls area, the administrators at the Old Drift or Sekute's Drift (which was unhealthy) decided to have a new township planned at the Constitution Hill. By the end of November 1904 the new township was being surveyed and the roads were marked. The township was layed out as a rectangular grid of streets and sanitary lanes forming fifteen blocks in all covering an area of rather less than one square kilometer. The central street main way (now Mosi-O-Tunya road) was to be 43 metres wide. The central block was to be an open park known as THE BAROTSE CENTRE, which still survives. The remaining fourteen blocks comprised two hundred and four stands. Some of these were reserved for the Administration's offices and other residents who were to be forced to abandon their old settlements at the Old Drift. The remaining stands were sold at an auction held on 23rd January 1905.
In 1904, when the railway line from Bulawayo reached the Zambezi River at the Victoria Falls, the Litunga Lubosi Lewanika came to the Victoria Falls for the official opening ceremony of the bridge conducted on 12th September 1905 by Professor George Darwin, President of the British Association. The first regatta which featured the Barotse royal badges of Mwandi Palace under Litia Yeta, son of Lewanika in Sesheke and Lealui the capital of Barotseland raced and Mwandi won.
It was at this very important event that the first curio shop was put up by Lewanika in the new town at the Barotse Centre. King Lewanika further declared the centre should be held unto perpetuity as a soft spot for all Africans who had less access to the new settlement, to utilize it as trading area for their crafts and as a green market. The official ceremony was the first of its kind. There were crafts and a lot of artwork from Barotseland, vegetables and fruits from surrounding areas of the Victoria Falls displayed for sale. As years passed activities among the White settlers and Africans at the new town increased. The main meeting place remained the Barotse Centre. Here the White settlers could buy crafts, artwork, vegetables and fruits from Africans.
The Barotse Centre further served as a recruitment point for native labour and as a venue for activities which involved the BAROTSE NATIVE POLICE and the BAROTSE NATIVE POLICE BAND, where Africans were actively involved.
The end remark by the parties involved during the official opening of the Victoria Falls bridge was to consider naming the Constitution Hill and areas surrounding the Victoria Falls as Doctor David Livingstone in honour of the great explorer who put the falls, the mighty Zambezi river, south and central Africa, including the people who were party to his expedition on the world map.
Two years after the official opening of the bridge in 1907, a decision was made by the White Administration of North-Western Rhodesia headed by Sir, Robert Codrington, in consultations with the Litunga Lubosi Lewanika of Barotseland, to shift the capital from Kalomo to Livingstone. The Barotse Centre was the venue for the celebrations that marked the importance and growth of the town. The town by then had two hotels, a restaurant, two mineral water factories, at least eight clothing and general stores, two butcheries, four building contractors, a chemist and a barber. Also Standard Bank of South Africa and the first North-Western hotel were opened at the capital.
In 1909 King Lewanika travelled to Livingstone to welcome the new Administrator Mr. Wallace, who replaced Robert Codrington who died. He was accorded a reception by the White Administration and Africans at the Barotse Centre especially the two pioneer Lithuanian business brothers, Harry and Elie Susman, who had been cattle traders in Barotseland, who took over the pioneer butchery, Mopane Clarke's store and a bar. The two brothers paid great tribute to the Litunga.
A major event in the early history of Livingstone town was the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught in 1910. They came to South Africa to open the first session of the Union Parliament and then proceeded on a tour to southern and northern Rhodesia. The Litunga Lubosi Lewanika and other Barotse royalty came to Livingstone for the occasion and were accommodated in town. Lewanika arranged an exhibition and demonstration of traditional Lozi crafts in the Barotse Centre, of which he took the visitors on a conducted tour. As usual, Lewanika made an excellent impression on both the visitors and settlers.
In 1911, the British South Africa Company with the approval of the British Government passed an ORDER-IN-COUNCIL to facilitate the amalgamation of the two territories of North-Western and North-Eastern Rhodesia into one but for Barotseland of the Litunga, which was reserved as a state within a state. Livingstone became the capital of Northern Rhodesia. The Barotse Centre was where the celebrations took place involving the peoples of the said territories backed by the two bands of the Barotse Native Police and the North-Eastern Rhodesia Constabulary which also amalgamated to one Northern Rhodesia Police.
Three years after the amalgamation in 1914 world war one broke out. Attention in all the British colonial territories, Northern Rhodesia included, turned to war activities at the expense of development especially in Barotseland. The events of this war bothered Lewanika (who wanted to develop his nation) so much that he did not live any longer and died in 1916.
Thereafter, it was not until 1921, when the Litunga Litia Yeta III CBE who succeeded his father Lewanika, who while on his way to Cape Town via Livingstone where he was invited to meet the Prince of Connaught, met with his people in the area and the Governor General.
Another exciting event at the Barotse Centre was in 1924 when Litia Yeta III CBE travelled to Livingstone for the great celebrations that marked the handover power from the British South Africa Company to Great Britain under the rule of King George V. The Litunga was to meet the first Governor Sir Herbert Stanley.
A spectacular visit by King George VI in 1947 who was to meet his friend the Litunga Imasiku Mwanan'ono Imwiko I put the Barotse Centre on the world map because of the modern print and electronic media that covered the Royal counterpart's shake hands, bolstering links between England and Barotseland. An occasion comprised of impressive activities such as the flotilla canoes that accompanied the regatta involving the Litunga's Royal badges at the boat club, a guard of honour on the Northern Rhodesia regiment and a Royal Walk (Kutamboka) where the two Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth participated.
Sir Mwanawina III KBE, too had extensively utilized the Barotse Centre as a venue for important activities on his many visits especially when he went to Salisbury in southern Rhodesia to sign for Barotseland as a state within states in an order of the federation that was evoked in 1953.
More importantly was when the Litunga Sir Mwanawina III KBE, the Ngambela Imenda Sibandi and some high ranking Indunas flew from Livingstone to England to sign the Barotseland Agreement of 1964. The Barotse Centre has been so significant to most Litungas (even at the time of Godwin Mbikusita Lewanika II) that whenever any of them visited Livingstone they passed by to see the centre.
This site therefore where these legal documents which described Zambia as a state and nation were signed and ratified is an important historical site which should be preserved without any uderlterations.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND REFERENCE
1. London; Colonial Office; (Commonwealth Library)-Public Record Office; (Affairs North of the Zambezi); News from Barotseland, Une Collection Comple'te, 4 Volumes 1897-1932
2. PEMS; (Paris Evangelical Mission Society) Headquarters, 102 Boulevard Arago; Francois Coillard, Personal Papers, Letters and Journals 1880-1904 (Zambezi Files; 1885-1904), Administration Britannique, Kalomo-Mongu, 1908-1933, Sefula Mission Station.
3. National Archives, Southern Rhodesia Salisbury (Harare Zimbabwe). Administrator's Files-A15/1-15 Miscellaneous, 1889-1899. A 3/18/5 Lewanika 1896-1903. A 11/2/12/5-6 Lewanika 1901-1903 A11/2/14/1-23 North-Western Rhodesia,1902-1909
4. British South Africa Company Files, Cape Town (C.T.1/4/1-7 Barotseland, 1890-1895; C.T.1/11/1 Concessions, Barotse, 1890-1895; C.T.1/15/1 Matters relating to Native Affairs 1892, Barotseland. London Office [L.O.5/2/1-58; L.O.5/3/1-4; L.O.5/7/1-6)
5. National Archives, Northern Rhodesia Lusaka (Zambia) A Series: Papers of the Administrator, North-Western Rhodesia, (NW/A) NW/A1/1/1-13, In letters 1902-1911, High Commissioner for South Africa; A1/2/1-17 In letters 1902-1911, London Office; A2/1/1-5 Out letters 1908-1911, High Commissioner; A2/2/1-6 Out letters 1901-1911, London Office; A2/3/1 Barotse Boundary Commission (January 1904); A3/25 Barotse Native Police, Lealui 1905-1906. Reports by Harding and Gibbisons.
6. Papers of the Northern Rhodesia Secretariat (NR/B) B Series: NR/B1/1; B1/1 (A353D) Concessions-Litia Yeta III CBE Correspondence with the Secretary of State, 1922-1924; B1/1 (A281A) Boundaries, District Barotseland 1912-1925.
7. NR/B1/2/1927 Series. NR/B1/2/177-9 Barotse Concessions 1901-1911; Lewanika: 1901 Amendments: 1905 and 1906; Lewanika; 1909: Lewanika to T.B. Davvies; Barotseland boundaries 1899 March to September 1925; B1/2/291 Control of Barotseland by the Imperial Government, 1921-1922; B1/2/302-3 Barotse Government: Land cases and outline of political system 1921
8. B1/3/1928 File Series: B1/3/677 The Litunga Litia Yeta III CBE's visit to Livingstone 1928. B1/3/688 Native Affairs, Barotseland 1928.
9. B1/7/1929 Series Lewanika Concessions, 1900-1912; Reconsideration of Concessions, 1927-1931
10. KDE Series Papers of Resident Magistrate, Barotseland: KDE 2/43/1-5 Anthropological, Historical, Slavery, Language, Customs; KDE 2/44/1-21 History of Barotseland, Notes and Documents.
11. OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS British Government Agreement between Great Britain and Portugal Relative to Spheres of Influence North of the Zambezi. Cmnd 7032 (London, 1893) Award of His Majesty the King of Italy respecting the western boundary of the Barotse Kingdom Cmnd 2584 (London 1905). Barotseland Agreement 1964, Cmnd 2366
12. ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT (Northern Rhodesia) Barotse Native Authority, Constitution Committee Report, Rawlings 1957. British South Africa Company, Report by the Ministry of Finance, Lusaka, on the Company's claims to Mineral Royalties in Northern Rhodesia, Government Printers, Lusaka 1964.
1. Bertrand Alfred-The Kingdom of Barotsi, upper Zambezi, London 1899
2. Col. Colin Harding-In Remotest Barotseland, Hurst and Blackett London 1905
3. Coillard Francois-On the Threshold of Central Africa, Hodder and Stoughton, London 1897
4. Stirke D W Barotseland; Eight Years among the Barotse, London 1922
5. Jalla Adolphe- Lewanika, Roi des Ba-Rotsi, Geneva 1902 Litaba za Sicaba sa Malozi; Oxford University Press, Cape town 1921, revised; London 1959
6. Baxter T. W; The Barose Concessions' Part 1, Northern Rhodesia journal, June 1951, no. 3, pp. 39-49. Part 2 Northern Rhodesia journal, December 1951, no. 4, pp. 38-45.
7. Bradley Kenneth; "Statesmen" Coryndon and Lewanika in North-Western Rhodesia; 'African Observer, Sep. 1936, volume V, no. 5
8. Caplan Gerald Lewis; A Political History of Barotseland, 1879-1965, thesis for Ph.D, London University 1968, published as The Elites of Barotseland, 1878-1969, C.Hurst and Co. London 1970.
9. Clay G C R; Your Friend, Lewanika, Litunga of Barotseland, 1842-1916 Robin's Series no. 7, Chatto and Windus London 1968.
10. Gluckman Max; Economy of the Central Barotse Plain, Roads-Livingstone Institute Paper no. 7 1941. Administrative Organization of the Barotse Native Authorities, with a plan for reforming them. Roads-Livingstone Institute Commn. no. 1, 1943.
11. Mutumba Mainga; Ph,D. Bulozi Under The Luyana Kings, (Political Evolution and State Formation) in Pre-colonial Zambia, 1973.
12. Brian M Fagan, M.A, Ph,D. The Victoria Falls, the Batoka Gorge and Part of the Zambesi River
(CNN) The Palestinian Authority officially became the 123rd member of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, a step that gives the court jurisdiction over alleged crimes in Palestinian territories.
The formal accession was marked with a ceremony at The Hague, in the Netherlands, where the court is based.
The Palestinians signed the ICC's founding Rome Statute in January, when they also accepted its jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014."
Later that month, the ICC opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestinian territories, paving the way for possible war crimes investigations against Israelis. As members of the court, Palestinians may be subject to counter-charges as well.
The war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza last summer left more than 2,000 people dead, the vast majority of them Palestinians.
Israel, which is not an ICC member, has opposed the Palestinians' efforts to join the body.
"The Israeli position -- like the position of the U.S., Canada and others -- is that the Palestinians are not eligible to join the ICC and the court does not have jurisdiction in this instance, first and foremost, because there is no Palestinian State in international law," Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
"The decision of the Palestinians to join the ICC as an attempt to move 'processes' against Israel is political, cynical and hypocritical."
The Palestinian Authority, which is allied to the "murderous" militant group Hamas, "is the last one that can threaten to present a case to the ICC in the Hague," the ministry added, saying that the Palestinians' membership violated the founding principles of the ICC and risked politicizing the body.
But Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, speaking at Wednesday's ceremony, said joining the ICC was a move toward greater justice.
"As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice," he said, according to an ICC news release. "Indeed, today brings us closer to our shared goals of justice and peace."
Rights group welcomes Palestinian decision
Judge Kuniko Ozaki, a vice president of the ICC, said acceding to the treaty was just the first step for the Palestinians.
"As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly," she said.
Rights group Human Rights Watch welcomed the development.
"Governments seeking to penalize Palestine for joining the ICC should immediately end their pressure, and countries that support universal acceptance of the court's treaty should speak out to welcome its membership," said Balkees Jarrah, international justice counsel for the group.
"What's objectionable is the attempts to undermine international justice, not Palestine's decision to join a treaty to which over 100 countries around the world are members."
U.S.: We will oppose actions against Israel at the ICC
In January, when the preliminary ICC examination was opened, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as an outrage, saying the court was overstepping its boundaries.
The United States also said it "strongly" disagreed with the court's decision.
"As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC," the State Department said in a statement.
It urged the warring sides to resolve their differences through direct negotiations. "We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace," it said.
But the ICC begs to differ with the definition of a state for its purposes and refers to the territories as "Palestine."
While a preliminary examination is not a formal investigation, it allows the court to review evidence and determine whether to investigate suspects on both sides. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office would "conduct its analysis in full independence and impartiality."
The inquiry will include alleged war crimes committed since June.
The International Criminal Court was set up in 2002 to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
THE AFRICAN UNION, IS IT COMPETENT IN CONFLICT RESOLUTIONS ON THE CONTINENT, BAROTSELAND QUESTION IN PARTICULAR?
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights’ 56th Ordinary Session is bound to take place from 21st April – 7th May 2015. The commission will, among other things, look at issues that affect and conflicts peoples' human rights. In view of the commission's role as a commission within the African union, AU, I am compelled to express my opinion of what is expected of the commission, having in mind the serious human rights violations reportedly perpetuated by AU member countries with impunity. I am not going to dwell on the objectives or roles of the African Union where the commission attributes its mandate, but on the legal rights of Barotseland, as in person under international public law. Is the African Union a serious platform to handle political conflicts, which are on the increase, across the continent or is it just a platform for sharing tips on how to rig elections in order to cling to power for the longest period by various African leaders?
It would be naive to believe that the African union is not able to solve conflicts happening in most parts of the African continent, as long as the administration of the African union is seemingly shifting in attitude towards the human rights abuses reports before her committed by member countries against the minorities calling for political freedom to self-determination. In short, if AU upholds the human rights as enshrined in UN charter, it will not fail in its duties of maintaining peace in the continent which needs urgent attention. The African Union, I believe does not oppose the right to self-determination of peoples, like in the case of Barotseland. The AU should come open to the idea and demand for an independent Barotseland, as evidenced by the legal and historical facts that Barotseland was never traded to a new country of Zambia by the Barotseland Agreement of 1964.
There have been, however, some indications that the African union may not be decidedly more biased in favor of new independent territories in the continent than they are to territorial integrity. Undoubtedly, by referring to international legality, the case of Barotseland is among a few considered African prospective states as born out of legality, and requires the justice of law to bring it to conclusion not the barrel of a Gun. Unfortunately, most of armed conflicts in Africa resulted due to inefficiency by the African union to handle disputes that boarder on sovereignty integrity in good faith including the option of independence.
What is certain is that the African union leaders and members, just as countries in the world, are torn between continuing to support a traditional ally and setting a new course that would contradict the interests of that ally. Now, that the African union has a new chairman, president Robert Mugabe known as a critic of Britain's occupation of huge land in Zimbabwe , should work in supporting the efforts of the United Nations peace process that seeks for peaceful resolution to disputes that exist within member countries. It will be another assault on fundamental principles of international law if bipartisan stance takes center stage by the African union in handling the Barotseland question in favor of Zambia's abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, and human rights abuses against unarmed people of Barotseland. Should such step be taken by the AU it will go on record as having endorsed Zambia's illegal annexation of Barotseland and human rights abuses including the right to self determination which is an unalienable Right.
In the meantime, the violations of human rights in occupied Barotseland have in fact amplified despite their denunciations by respectable human rights organizations, such as the USA 2013 reports on human rights violations in Zambia or Human Rights Watch. The Barotseland Activists are subjected to inhuman treatment such as illegal arrests, long detentions, suppressed freedom of expression and freedom of association, deaths with some killed buried secretly, etc. In 2011, about 19 Barotse people who were among those that wanted to discuss the abrogated BA’64 were shot dead by the Zambian police or simply went missing to date.
In 2013, about 150 Barotse people were arrested by simply celebrating at the news that the Barotseland government is put in place, a case which was discontinued by Zambia after six months of detention without trial. The case of the Barotseland Youth Activists is also another example, who wrote a letter in 2014 of protests against Zambian's government sponsoring division amongst liberation leaders by luring some to disrespect others, led to the arrest of three youth leaders Muziba, Nayoto and Sikwibele who were later sentenced and are currently serving a three year imprisonment with hard labor.
Furthermore, the Barotseland self-determination quest is not bound to be solved by holding a referendum. The people of Barotseland have already objected to the idea of referendum in spite of calls by some Zambian political opposition parties and some civil rights societies to subject the issue to a referendum. The rejection is out of the fact that nothing gives Zambia the right to offer referendum to Barotseland, as in the absence of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, the two territories of Barotseland and Zambia are not bound to each other, and it is utter ambiguity and assault to the Law of treaties.
Even though the issue very rarely makes the headlines, the Barotseland conflict has a significant impact on the development of SADC region. Indeed, the lack of regional integration is a serious consequence: economic exchange between southern member states will lead to economic hardship of the region.
I, therefore, expect the African Union to handle the Barotseland impasse with seriousness it deserves as it borders on the very principle of international law, than military capabilities.
Barotseland must be let free.
Litunga Ni lyetu.
Zambia's PF government vice-president Inonge Wina is expected to travel to Barotseland to meet the Litunga and his indunas, the Zambia Watchdog reveals.
Mrs Wina’s main mission is to plead and if pleading fails to bribe the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to allow her or her president Edgar Lungu to officiate at this year’s Kuomboka Ceremony.
With Barotse Freedom fighters detained in Mumbwa and other jails, there are indicators that the people of Barotseland do not wish to have officials from Lusaka to president over the only event that brings joy to the Kingdom.
Last year, the Kuomboka ceremony could not be held due (official reason given) to the death of the Litunga (King)’s wife Queen Moyo Imwambo. But the real reason was that the local people refused to have late president Michael Sata lead the ceremony.
Mrs Wina will also meet local people in her first visit from the time she was appointed vice president. Wina had expected joy and excitement from the people of Barotseland on her appointment but instead the people could not care less. The ululations and praises for her being first woman vice-president in a poverty stricken country came from others parts of the country not Barotseland who saw her appointment as personal achievement.
The PF will thus pay people to line up the streets of Mongu to welcome Mrs Wina and give the impression that the whole Barotseland is happy - ZambianWatchdog.com