“Zambians who come from the other provinces, who do not wish to understand that the ‘Western Province’ has a legitimate claim to be part of Zambia on a DIFFERENT BASIS to the rest of us…cannot in good conscience try to gloss over and arrogantly dismiss this fact, as has been the practice in the past,” wrote Dr. Rodger Chongwe on 28th October, 2010, in a widely and nationally publicized article, further stating,
“We, as the rest of Zambia, made a deal with the Barotse Kingdom. We must now in all good faith acknowledge that we did not keep the agreement. Our partners in the broken agreement have clearly not been happy with our behavior for a long while. Let's come together and put it right in our time.”
Another veteran Zambian constitutional Lawyer, Dr. Ludwig Sondashi, said, in no uncertain terms, that Lozi people in Zambia have an undeniable right to choose to separate from Zambia if they wished or if certain conditions existed, and therefore, calling them secessionists whenever they peacefully agitated for self-determination was not only illegal and unconstitutional but also a gross violation of their human rights.
Dr. Ludwig Sondashi (Bachelor of Laws LLB, Masters of Law LLM and Ph.D. in Philosophy in Law acquired at Warwick University, England) even dedicated an entire chapter 8 of his autobiography titled ‘TRUTH is not an easy road’ on the subject of the defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964, in which he further lamented that successive Zambian regimes and many Zambians just did not want to care about how Barotseland became part of Zambia, stating that it was time Zambians faced the hard truth that Lozis were not like the rest of Zambians because they had unique rights of self-determination guaranteed under international law.
“Why are we painting a bad picture of the Lozis by carelessly stating that they want to secede from Zambia as if Barotseland was a province of Northern Rhodesia before independence like Northern Province or Central Province? Even writers have attempted to comment on the self-determination of the Lozi people without qualification. They have given the impression that Barotseland is just as equal as North-Western province or Eastern province. In other words, everyone has been trying to mislead the people of Zambia in reducing the status and identity of that region to that of other resident provinces,” lamented Dr. Sondashi.
The veteran lawyer has categorically stated that purporting to annul the pre-independence Barotseland Agreement of 1964 which brought the Barotse country into Zambia unilaterally is not possible. Even if the Zambian government used constitutional and legislative means, Dr. Sondashi argues that it would not matter as the 1964 Barotseland Agreement was superior to the Constitution of Zambia.
“The problem that any constitutional lawyer faced in this matter was the abrogating of the powers conferred on Litunga (King) and his council by paragraph 4 of the 1964 Barotseland agreement by Zambian government arbitrarily and unilaterally. It did not matter whether this usurpation of these powers was done by constitutional means or any Act of Parliament.
“In this case, the Barotseland Agreement was SUPERIOR even to the constitution of Zambia. It followed that it could not be changed adversely or unilaterally even by the constitution or any act of parliament without concurrent consent of the Litunga and his council. The abolishing of the powers, privileges, and rights of the Litunga and his council and of the people of Barotseland, is unconstitutional, unlawful, and illegal and an unacceptable act internationally.”
Dr. Sondashi submits further that since Barotseland joined Zambia by agreement, the same agreement inherently provides for separation at the wishes of either party or if certain conditions emerged.
The objective submissions of the two referenced eminent Zambian lawyers, experts in both constitutional & international law, is further supported and validated by another team of legal experts and reputable Zambian personalities who constituted the 2003 Mungomba Constitutional Review Commission who thoroughly investigated the defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964 and concluded that Barotseland is only a part of Zambia and remains so only as a consequence of the Barotseland Agreement 1964.
Accordingly, failure to implement the 1964 agreement amounted to frustrating the treaty, giving rise to questions about the legitimacy of the Zambian Government authority over Barotseland and jeopardizing the continued existence of Zambia as a ‘unitary’ state.
Thus, the Mungomba commission advised the Zambian government over the matter as below:
“From the submissions received (On The Barotseland Agreement of 1964) the following, are the findings and conclusions of the commission:
1.1 INTENT AND EVOLUTION OF THE AGREEMENT
The Barotseland Agreement 1964 is a successor treaty to the treaties subsisting between the British Crown and the Barotse Monarchy relating to the Protection status of Barotseland, prior to independence. The Agreement incorporates the territory and people of the former Protectorate of Barotseland into the nation of Zambia, and transfers all obligations and rights of the British Crown with respect to Barotseland to the Government of Zambia, effective 24th October, 1964. The authority of the Zambian Government over Barotseland is, therefore, derived from and legitimized by the Agreement. The Agreement further provides terms and conditions on which governance in Barotseland is to be conducted by both the Zambian Government and the Barotse Government.
The unitary nature of the Zambian State is derived from the fact that the two constituent territories, i.e. the Protectorate of Barotseland and the Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia signed this treaty to become one independent Sovereign Republic. This principle is enshrined in paragraph 2 and 3 of the Preamble to the Agreement. This principle was further reflected in the legal instrument that gave birth to the new Republic, that is. Article 125 (1) of Northern Rhodesia Independence Order 1964 which promulgated the independence constitution, and section 1 of the Zambia Independence Act of 1964. Both these legal provisions arose as a direct consequence of the Agreement 1964.
Barotseland is a part of Zambia and remains so only as a consequence of the Barotseland Agreement 1964. Failure to implement the Agreement amounts to frustration of the treaty which gives rise to questions about the legitimacy of the Zambian Government authority over Barotseland and jeopardizes the continued existence of unitary state.” END quote.