Fifty plus One Years legacy of trickery and treachery – Breaking the various circle

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Queen Elizaberth handing over instruments of power to Kenneth Kaunda in 1964

Queen Elizaberth handing over instruments of power to Kenneth Kaunda in 1964

By Mwananyandi Mukunyandela Mukuyoyisa

As the ‘wind of change’ was blowing across Africa, frantic efforts were being made to hammer out an agreement that would bring independence to Northern Rhodesia while ensuring that Barotseland does not remain dependent on the British Crown in accordance with the treaties between the British Crown on one hand and the Barotse monarchy on the other. Late on 18th May, 1964, ‘The Barotseland Agreement 1964’ was signed.

“Following talks in London between the British Government, the Government of Northern Rhodesia and the Litunga of Barotseland, an Agreement was concluded at the Commonwealth Relations Office on 18th May, 1964.

KK Independence

The Litunga

The Litunga

It is entitled ‘The Barotseland Agreement 1964. It was signed by Dr. K. D. Kaunda, Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia, by Sir Mwanawina Lewanika III K.B.E., Litunga of Barotseland and by the Right Honourable Duncan Sandys M. P Secretary for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies, signifying the approval of her Majesty’s Government.”

The closing paragraph of the preamble of ‘The Barotseland Agreement 1964’ from which the above quote is gotten reads;
“The Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia undertook on behalf of his Government that the Agreement would be reaffirmed by the Government of Northern Rhodesia at Independence.”

It is an open historic secret and fact that this undertaking was not fulfilled and remains unfulfilled to date, fifty plus one years since it was made. This is the genesis of a legacy of trickery, mockery and treachery that has prevailed since the still birth of the Unitary State called Republic of Zambia.

Almost three months later, in a very flowery speech delivered in the Kashandi at the headquarters of the Barotse Government in Lealui on Thursday 6th August 1964, Dr Kaunda said among other things:
“… I can assure you, Sir Mwanawina, and all members of the Barotse Royal Family and of the Barotse Government, that the Government has no wish to interfere with the day to day running of the internal affairs of Barotseland.”

Again, the truth on the ground supported by documentary evidence and history is that the Kaunda regime made it his prime responsibility to interfere in the affairs of Barotseland by first destabilizing the Katengo Legislative Council soon after Zambia’s independence in 1965 replacing it with District Councils that were answerable to the Minister of Local Government, and not to the Litunga anymore. Going as far as looting the Barotse National Treasury to cripple what he repeatedly referred to as the ‘Barotse Government’ in that 6th August 1964 speech but later nicknamed ‘Barotse Royal Establishment’ (BRE) and robbed it of any semblance of capacity to stand on its feet until it was barely crawling on its belly such that the first popularly elected Ngambela, The Right Hon. Hastings Ndangwa Nooyo, had to abdicate for lack of capacity to sustain his day to day needs.

The syndrome of trickery, mockery and treachery continued as the Kaunda regime enacted legislation after legislation, starting with the Local Government Act No. 69 of 1965, mutilating the Barotseland Agreement 1964, contrary to its own provisions. The last nail in the coffin was the enactment of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment No. 5) Act 33 of 1969 which completely abrogated and literally threw into the refuse bin the Barotseland Agreement 1964 because it was no longer worth the paper upon which it was written. Noteworthy is the fact that all this was done without the consent of Barotseland, the other party to the Agreement that was terminated by that constitutional amendment.

Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda

Twenty-one years down the line when KK saw that his castle-empire built over 27 years in power was crumbling ‘without let or hindrance’ while he watched, he decided to use his last trick in the bag to save himself from the eminent collapse by using flowery language to the Barotse people again and promising a rethink over the Barotseland Agreement, 1964. He went as far as promising the BRE the best legal representation at the expense of GRZ! Of course even that turned out to be too little, too late as the Kaunda days were numbered and his empire was weighed in the balance and found wanting.

The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) whirlwind which led to the tumbling of the Kaunda towers was principally initiated and spearheaded by some fine Barotse brains and it promised a redress of all the ills of the KK regime which had almost become draconian by the time it tumbled. Among the most serious ills that were to be redressed was the trampling underfoot of the Barotseland Agreement 1964. At the eleventh hour the MMD’s March to take over government, was hijacked by a self-confessed political engineer and trickster who dribbled everyone else by positioning himself for the top job. Consequently, much to the frustration and disillusionment of many within the rank and file he abandoned the fine tenets of the Garden House MMD dream.

Frederick Chiluba

Frederick Chiluba

Under this regime of one, FTJ Chiluba (MHSRIP) the Barotseland Agreement 1964 was declared ‘statutory stale’, the Litunga was threatened with arrest and it took the Barotse people to literally protect their King as human shields, Senior Chief Inyambo was thrown behind bars and the ‘divide and rule’ tactic was entrenched into the trickery, mockery and treachery legacy by inciting the Nkoya people against their own brothers, gazetting chiefs contrary to Barotse norms and traditions as well as the Zambian Constitution, and refusing to gazette rightly enthroned Senior Chief Amukena II.

Super Ken tried to play the BA ’64 card again in 1996 but was outwitted by the political engineer through a constitutional provision that effectively barred him from contesting presidential elections, prompting an election boycott by UNIP that handed power back to the trickster and master dribbler FTJ. Mwanawasa tried to appease Malozi by a more balanced development agenda and equitable distribution of the national cake. He went as far as publicly referring to the region as Barotseland which had almost become treasonable under the Kaunda and Chiluba regimes. This softened stance resulted into the bouncing back to popularity of the MMD in 2006 in Barotseland. Riding on the same wave of popularity Rupiah Banda (RB) won the Barotse vote during the election after Mwanawasa’s demise in 2008.

Rupiah Banda

Rupiah Banda

RB quickly took on the garment of his real mentor, Super Ken and embraced the same legacy of trickery, mockery and treachery. First and foremost he insulted Malozi by saying he never asked for their vote! It was under RB that the Barotse anger against this legacy almost reached a crescendo and was met with brutality and iron fists. For this reason we shall not forget the January 14th 2011 massacre of unarmed and peaceful Malozi butchered in cold blood.

President Sata arriving in Solwezi. Photos by State House

President Sata

Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata (MHSRIP), the King Cobra on the other hand took full advantage of the situation and true to his nature as a snake in the grass played to the gallery and declared himself Linyungandambo member, called the BA ’64 an honourable and sensible agreement which was still alive and promised to restore it within 90 days if he came to power. The sweet tongue of the serpent played the trick, earning himself a reasonable number of votes from Barotseland and two parliamentary seats, enough to give him an edge over his principle rival, RB, and win the presidency.

File: Michael Sata addressing a rally

File: Michael Sata addressing a rally

The only reward Barotseland got was the release of Barotse detainees who could not be convicted of any crime, a window dressing meeting at State House with some Barotse activists which resulted in scorn for the Litunga, a commission of inquiry to investigate the 14th January 2011 massacre of innocent Lozi nationals, whose report and recommendations have never seen the light of day, just gathering dust somewhere in State House and the publication of the BA ’64 in the three main dailies. To dilute and neutralise the positive elements of the above if any at all, the King Cobra added to the menu; more arrests and state sponsored brutality, more venomous threats, more divide and rule and indeed more trickery, mockery and treachery.

The 20th January, 2015 presidential elections demonstrated among other things that the issue of the BA ’64 is one issue of significant national importance as presidential aspirants stumbled over each other trying to outwit one another to make this or that statement over the issue. We ended up having a catalogue of the most balanced and sane positions on the issue as well as the most absurd and irrational ones. Perhaps what is not publicly known is the fact that among other things the candidate who emerged victorious actually made sweeping promises over the issue to a group of Barotse activist youths who went to see him ‘in the night’.

Among the promises he made was that he would allow the people of Barotseland to determine their destiny and would immediately engage all the stakeholders; that he would release the Rodger Chongwe Commission Report and he would immediately change the slave name of Western Province back to Barotseland as well as release all persons incarcerated on Barotseland related allegations.

President Lungu

President Lungu

Information very much in the public domain is the fact that within 24hrs of his swearing in as Zambia’s 6th Republican president, HE Edgar Chagwa Lungu was in receipt of a letter from the BNFA Chairman General Mr. Clement Wainyae Sinyinda challenging him to, among other things:
“… immediately engage the people of Barotseland and Barotse civil society organizations for the sole purpose of working out transitional arrangements towards self determination and self rule for Barotseland.”

What is also common knowledge is that the President immediately responded by sending an emissary to the Chairman General of BNFA and to the BRE as well as talking on the phone with the Chairman General of BNFA committing himself to engage the Barotse people. Further, while in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the AU Heads of State summit, he spoke publicly about his commitment to engage with the Barotse people upon his return to Zambia in the full glare of the world media houses.

It has been more than three months since the AU heads of state summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and HE Edgar Chagwa Lungu has remained mute on this matter since, prompting the BNFA Executive Committee to submit to him a ‘Position Statement’ on the matter of the Actualization of Barotseland Statehood on Thursday 23rd April 2015 which is indeed the Position Statement of the people of Barotseland as a whole. The president’s ‘very audible’ silence on this crucial matter especially after the buoyancy with which he approached it at the onset of his presidency reeks of the legacy of trickery, mockery and treachery that have dogged and bedevilled the matter over the past fifty plus one years.

It remains to be seen whether indeed, as per suspicion, the current president will be just like the rest of his predecessors or he will break and depart from the tradition of his predecessors by demonstrating political will to ensure that the matter of the Actualization of Barotseland Statehood receives the due attention it deserves by Government, including subjecting it to international interventions because the Barotse people believe they are not making any strange or unreasonable demands but only what is rightfully their RIGHT, falling within the perimeters of logic and legality in accordance with universally accepted international norms. It remains to be seen whether Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu who prides himself as being a seasoned lawyer will make good his earlier commitment in line with his campaign promise that he will be a listening President.

Yet when all is said and done the responsibility to break this vicious circle of trickery, mockery and treachery by successive Zambian regimes lies squarely in the hands of the Barotse people themselves. It is up to all bana ba Malozi to stand up and be counted and say enough is enough, we are fed up of this legacy and we put an end to it or die. It is called a revolution.

A revolution in the past meant ‘blood and iron’ but in this day and age it doesn’t need to be. That is why there is talk of the velvet revolution also referred to as the Arab spring. The Barotse Revolution does not even need to get to that magnitude of hostilities. It can simply be a peaceful Revolution of a people refusing to be trampled upon, tricked, mocked and treated with disdain and in a treacherous manner.

Refusing to remain silent, cognisant of the fact that, in Martin Luther King Jnr’s words:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

Believing the words of Nelson Mandela:
“No people are perpetually too weak as to fail to stand up for their rights”
Tukuongote shaa! Wa mwana Nongolo kapa wa mwana Muka, if need be, until freedom reigns from the highest mountain top to the lowest valley!

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31