Barotseland Legal Position on the 18th MAY 1964 defunct agreement and creation of Zambia – Part TWO

18 May 2017
LEFT - Kenneth David Kaunda RIGHT – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother of England with Sir Mwanawina III, KBE, King of Barotseland in 1960



Sadly, it quickly became clear that the Government of Zambia had no intention of honouring its promises either to Barotseland or to the British.

From the very outset, the Government of Zambia embarked on a systematic path to defeat the agreement.

Despite a Cabinet resolution to do so, the Agreement was never ratified or reaffirmed by the Government of Zambia, whether at Independence as Dr Kaunda had promised the other parties in London it would be, or at all. 

Then, in 1965, by the Local Government Act and in obvious defiance of the express terms of the Agreement the Kaunda regime purported to repeal the Barotse Native Authority Ordinance and indeed to abolish the National Council in all but a ceremonial role.  Had this ruse been of substantive legal effect it would have divested the Litunga of Barotseland of the power he had, historically and under the Agreement, as the local authority for the government and administration of Barotseland and left him and his Royal Establishment as ceremonial figures to the people of Barotseland.

In 1969 through Constitution (Amendment) Act No.5 the Kaunda Government enacted that “The Barotseland Agreement 1964 shall cease to have effect and all rights (whether vested or otherwise) and liabilities thereunder shall lapse”.  This enactment was obviously a deliberate and calculated move in that it indicated a death blow to the Agreement from the side of the Government of Zambia just five years after it was reached.  The Kingdom of Barotseland submits that it can only be concluded that even at the time the Government of Zambia entered into the agreement they had no intention of honouring it and signed it probably only to appease the British Government, and, of course, to get their hands on Barotseland, its resources and its approximately 3 ½ million people.

In 1969 also, the Government passed the Mines and Minerals Act which purported to divest the Litunga of the Mineral Rights previously reserved to him and his people.  The Barotseland Agreement had been silent on the subject of mines and minerals. However, the Litunga’s rights in this regard were the subject of the original agreements with the British South Africa Company of the 1880s and 1890s.  From the BSAC the entitlement to mining and minerals, which at all times were held at the will of the Litunga, in consultation with the Kuta, passed to the United Kingdom as the protecting power.  From there, there was no legitimate way that these mining and mineral rights could have found their way into the pockets of the Government of Zambia, but that for the present at least is what has in fact happened.

A year later in 1970, the Government passed the Constitutional (Amendment) Act which empowered the President to compulsorily acquire property for the purposes of his Administration.  In the exercise of these new purported – insofar as they related to Barotseland – powers, the President of the Republic of Zambia compulsorily took control of the assets of Barotseland including the entire contents of Seventy Eight Million Five Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling (£78, 500, 000.00) in the Barotse Native Treasury, whilst the powers that were intended to be, within Barotseland, could only stand haplessly by.  The Barotseland Agreement had expressly reserved control and administration of the Barotse Native Treasury to the Litunga of Barotseland and his establishment.

In its continued efforts apparently to obliterate the very existence of Barotseland, in 1970 the Government of Zambia unilaterally and unlawfully changed the name of “Barotseland” to Western Province.  This was quite literally done by Dr Kaunda, as President of Zambia, in a speech - titled “I wish to inform the Nation”.  Barotseland relies on it as evidencing the contempt with which the Kaunda Government treated the Barotseland Agreement and indeed Barotseland and its people.

Prior to the Barotseland Agreement and its aftermath, the people of Barotseland had, as a matter of fact, never been colonised. Through the acts by the Government of Zambia described above, the people of Barotseland find themselves as pariahs on their own land, - no investment, no support, no hope. They had been recolonised by the very Government from whom they expected, and indeed had been assured of, brotherhood and peaceful co-existence.

Despite efforts to reinstate discussion of the Barotseland Agreement, no significant progress was made during the currency of the Kaunda regime.

In 1991 after 26 years of Kaunda-pronounced states of emergency, and with democratic elections around the corner, Kaunda did address the question of the Barotseland Agreement in a letter to the then Litunga and promised full discussion, but he was defeated in the elections themselves.  No meaningful progress was made with any of the subsequent regimes.  The late Sata, having repeatedly asserted during his presidential electoral campaign that Barotseland would have self-governance within “three months” if he was elected, resiled, once President, asserting that this would lead other chiefs in Zambia to seek the same privileges as the Litunga.

The forgoing is Part TWO of a three part legal presentation by the Department of Justice and Legal Affairs, Royal Barotseland Government (RBG) in commemoration of the 18th May signing of the now Defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964. Read Part ONE and Part THREE.

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