There is an international principle of law which states that “the law is destroyed by another law”
Before we delve into explaining what a constitution is and what it does, we wish to immediately scream out loud that what Barotseland needs now is her own Law (Constitution) which will destroy and nullify the Zambian Law (Constitution).
It must be born in mind that the president of the republic of Zambia currently draws his power and authority in order to run the affairs of his country Zambia, including Barotseland, from the constitution of Zambia which among other things gives him power and authority to command the police, armed forces, appoint ministers and political officers, diplomats, defense chiefs, etc.
Therefore, if we are to curtail the Zambian president’s current powers and authority over Barotseland, we need to have our own constitution which will stipulate how the affairs of Barotseland should be run and by who? We will emphasis this point further on in this commentary.
Let us now look briefly at what a constitution of a state is and what it does.
WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE?
Oxford Dictionary of law defines constitution of the state as follows:
“Constitution: the rules and practices that determine the composition and functions of the organs of the central and local government in a state and regulate the relationship between the individual and the state. most states have a written constitution, one of the fundamental provisions of which is that it can itself be amended only in accordance with a special procedure”.
Furthermore, a constitution is the supreme law of the land hence referred to as “Grund Normal”.
A constitution is a charter of government which derives its whole authority from the governed. The constitution sets out, among many other things, the form of government. It specifies the purpose of government, the power each department of the government, the state and society relationship, the relationship between various government departments and the limits of the government. It also stipulates whether and when national elections are held and the procedure thereof.
In addition, the constitution must be locally tailored meaning that it should be made by the indigenous people of that particular state. E.g the Constitution of Malawi is made and legitimized by Malawians through a specified procedure, and this law is applied in Malawi only. Ugandans or non Malawians in general cannot make and endorse this Malawian constitution and neither can the Malawian constitution be applied in other countries.
Furthermore, a constitution may be made by many or by a few individuals as the case was with the American constitution called the WEST MINISTER, which was tailored by 41 individuals only but later approved by the general populace, thereby making it legitimate.
We wish to propose that this is the case with the proposed “transitional constitution of Royal Barotseland.”
It is up to us the people of Barotseland to either approve it or reject it. As we do so, however, we must remember that the longer we remain without our own Law for Barotseland, the longer Zambia will continue to exercise and exert their authority through their (Zambian) Law which is currently active over Barotseland.
To us, this is the last piece on the political and national independence puzzle.
Our own constitution will not only destroy and annul the Zambian Constitution currently in force in Barotseland, but it will also empower the interim government, to run the day to day affairs of Barotseland.
We should not be stuck on who and how many individuals were involved in its creation, because honestly speaking, there is no way of involving everybody, at this stage, because we are still under colonial bondage to Zambia. Remember, even Northern Rhodesia, at independence, used the Independence Act and Order in council 1964 to allow Northern Rhodesia proceed to independence until 1965 when the first amendments were made and later in 1969 when a referendum was held as a way of involving “everyone” in the constitution making.
What should be critical at this stage is, does the proposed transitional constitution give us the necessary bridge to independence and will the majority be able to review and amend it once we are self governing?
We understand from some of the clauses of the transitional document that the interim period shall not exceed a period of 3 years – a good enough period for us to settle down as a nation and reorganize our country.
Some Barotzish have argued that we don’t need a constitution because our constitution is and has always been “unwritten” and that we have our “Sizo and Mikwa” - cultural and traditional norms, etc.
As much as the above is true in the traditional and cultural sense, it will not help us at this point because these unwritten cultural norms will not empower the interim government to establish defense, police, appoint diplomats, civil service and the general day to day running of government, to the extent that we can compete internationally with other countries in the world.
If these “Unwritten Norms” had such power, how is it that we still have no power to govern ourselves in spite of the declaration of independence affirmed on 26th – 28th March 2012? This “unwritten” constitution will not and cannot annul the Constitution that Zambia is using to govern us currently!
So let us be open to changes and reforms that will help us move quickly to freeing ourselves from the yoke of Zambia and then move quickly to rebuilding our country.
It is for this reason that we wish to commend organizations such as the Barotseland National Youth League who have already openly endorsed and legitimized the proposed transitional Constitution because the sooner we do this, the quicker we will attain self governing status. We must also report that this endorsement alone was happily received by the international powers that be and was termed as a "major right step in the right direction"
So our appeal to all Barotseland interest groups, liberation movements and all Barotseland citizens home and abroad is, can we unite at this one time and send in signatures or endorsement letters to legitimize the transitional constitution that will empower the setting up of the interim government?
Time for electioneering and campaigning for state power will come after we have attained our independence when we shall elect our representatives in the Katengo or house of commons and Mulonga (house of Lords)
We are of course aware that this proposed founding document is not perfect but it is a fair and good start, and we will have a chance to perfect it after independence.
Let us also bear in mind that a constitution is a major requirement for statehood, as it also stipulates our borders and boundaries. It is a good thing that a state constitution does not need the approval of Zambia or any other foreign country, but it must be legitimized by the indigenous people of that particular state. In our case we, the people of Barotseland must give legitimacy to the Barotseland constitution!
In conclusion we must all agree that we need our own constitution now in order to destroy the Zambian constitution and make it powerless over Barotseland, because by the above quoted international principle of law “the law is destroyed by another law”
Therefore, we MUST endorse our own constitution now in order to destroy the Zambian law (constitution) over us.
Pronouncements that we do not want the Zambian constitution any longer without providing an ultimate and alternative constitution will not do us any good.
Finally, we wish to sympathize with those that have been arrested for showing their displeasure at Zambia’s insistence on applying and imposing the Laws of Zambia over Barotseland.
We can help these brothers by quickly endorsing our own Law so that the Zambian Law will be rendered null and void in Barotseland.
Let us avoid violence and all acts that will make Zambia exercise their law over us, but let us use the power of the mind and pen through effective lobbying so that we cross over this bridge to independence and Self-Determination. - and this we can assure the commonwealth of Barotseland that SELF - Determination is fast approaching!!
We will compile them and submit them to the international powers that be.