The correct notion, however, is that while Zambia is a republic, a form of government in which elected individuals represent the citizen body, and Barotseland a monarchy, both the Republic of Zambia and the Kingdom of Barotseland could choose to be democratic states or dictatorships!
In fact, many so-called republics in the world today are simply autocracies (system of government in which supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, who acts like a totalitarian king (or queen), when they are not because, in many cases, their position may not be inherited by their children.
Therefore, autocracy is what dictatorship really is and must not be confused with the monarchical type of government! Prominent examples of such autocratic 'republics' are the “People's Republic of China” or the “Democratic People's Republic of Korea” (DPRK).
Today, many so-called republics in Africa, including Zambia, are autocracies in actuality. Their leaders may assume office via popular election, but they often go on to rule as tin-pot dictators intolerant of divergent views! Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for instance, became so autocratic that it took the military to ‘dethrone’ him, while Zambia remains a democracy in name only as its citizens suffer terrible oppression and repression!
In reality, therefore, both republics and kingdoms can either be democracies exercising power according to the rule of law under a constitution, including separation of powers, or can choose to be dictatorships, which is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders with no or little regard for the rule of law as prescribed by the constitution!
So what is a Kingdom?
A kingdom is not a ‘tribe’ but a politically organized country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen. Some other terms used to describe a kingdom are, Realm, Domain, Dominion, Country, Land, Nation, State, Sovereign State, Province, Territory, Empire, Principality, Palatinate or Duchy! The kingdom of Barotseland, for instance, has as many as 35 tribes or ethnic linguistic groups, with several chiefdoms subservient to the King of Barotseland, and yet all are united by one national siLozi language and culture!
Generally, there are two types of kingdoms or monarchies; Absolute or Limited Monarchy. In an absolute monarchy, the monarch has unchecked powers and acts as both head of state and head of government while a limited monarch will exercise powers limited or regulated by the national constitution. Therefore, the main difference between a limited and absolute monarchy is the amount of power that the monarch wields.
Many countries that were once absolute monarchies have become limited monarchies, and Barotseland falls into this category. For over a century now, the Litunga (King) of Barotseland has had his powers regulated by mikwa ya sizo, which are defined cultural norms and practices. Barotseland did not have a written constitution until now when Barotseland aspires to codify its constitution in the new dispensation.
Unlike most modern states, Britain too does not have a codified constitution but has an unwritten constitution formed of Acts of Parliament, court judgments, and conventions. Similarly, Barotseland has been governed that way, through ‘mikwa ya sizo’ long before encountering the British!
Therefore, Barotseland will continue to be governed as a democratic constitutional monarchy, with the Litunga as the Constitutional Head of State even in the new dispensation!
There are many such monarchies in the world today, with thriving democratic governance and stable prosperous economies, notable among them being Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Spain. These few, among many others, are here listed in no particular order.
From the outlined examples, it is clear that there is nothing ‘archaic’ or ‘mediocre’ about monarchies per se as the countries cited are some of the most developed, civilized and sophisticated modern countries on earth today!
In fact, there are as many as 43 sovereign countries ruled by kings, queens, sultans, emperors and emirs found all over Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/Oceania.
Of the 43 sovereign monarchies today, only about six are absolute monarchies and two or three are mixed. The rest of them are actually thriving constitutional democratic monarchies!
Barotseland, therefore, should be proud that soon her sovereignty will be recognized among these democratic constitutional monarchies, and should have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, Barotse people will continue to govern themselves under this system of government as it is the type closest to what they have been for over a century.
Barotseland will have regular popular elections to vote for their parliamentary representatives in the Katengo, from which the Prime Minister will be voted to head the government while the King will remain the constitutional head of state! This is the Barotse culture and the Lozi must be proud of it!
Therefore, Constitutional Monarchy type of government is best suited for the kingdom of Barotseland! Anything else is foreign and alien to Barotseland!
After all, it is commonly said that a fool and his culture are soon parted! And the Barotse people are no fools!