Micheal Sata: A deranged maron or an ingenious man on Barotseland?

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PF leader Michael Sata addresses a rally in Mongu, May 21, 2011 – Picture by Thomas Nsama – Post Newspaper

By Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post

No national leader in Zambia has ever spoken so openly about the defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964 as did Michael Chilufya Sata in 2011 when canvassing for the presidential vote. The self-proclaimed ‘Chief-Linyungandambo’ did not mince his words when he publicly declared that he and his Patriotic Front (PF) party would implement the defunct agreement within 90 days of his presidency.

It was never how quickly he promised to implement the agreement that shocked the nation but that he even dared to mention the matter considered treasonable in Zambia! Mr. Sata, then in opposition, declared that only crooks and dishonest people failed to honor their promises.

He wondered how Zambia could fail to honour an agreement which it had entered into at independence in 1964.

“The Barotse Agreement is still a valid agreement,” he said. “How can you ignore an agreement that was signed, sealed and delivered almost 47 years ago?” asked Mr. Sata while challenging then President Rupiah Banda to show honour by acknowledging the agreement’s validity and existence.

“There is no honest person who can deny the existence and validity of the Barotse Agreement. And those with honour and integrity honour valid agreements they have entered into whether they still like them or not,” Sata said.

“The PF government will honour the Barotse Agreement without hesitation because we have no problems with it. We see nothing wrong with it.”

Mr. Sata had further advised that Zambians needed to learn to live in a country of diversity and that it was also a fundamental principle even in international law for successive governments to honour agreements they find.

“We have always said we have nothing to fear about the Barotse Agreement. It is a decent agreement that must be honoured. Only crooks and dictators who want everything to be controlled by them from Lusaka can fear the Barotse Agreement.”

Furthermore, Mr. Sata said that the Barotse Agreement was not about secession but a higher and advanced form of national unity.

“How can an agreement that brought our country together as a unitary sovereign state be seen to be a divisive instrument; to be about secession and treason?” Sata had wondered.

“The Barotse Agreement united and brought together what was not united; what was divided. It is an agreement that brought unity in diversity to our people and as such must be honoured and respected.”

Mr. Sata had then also cautioned that intimidation and threats of treason would not resolve the matter.

“How can an agreement that exists be treasonable? That agreement is real, so what’s treasonous about that? In fact, the peace and unity that Zambia has enjoyed since independence as a sovereign state can be partly attributed to the Barotse Agreement,” he said, promising further that “PF would like to see to it that Zambia remains an oasis of peace by engaging the people of Barotseland over the Barotse Agreement and ensure that their grievances are resolved once and for all.”

However, in spite of all the above public assurances he made as an opposition leader seeking the Barotse vote, Zambia’s 5th Republican President, Michael Sata, did not treat the Barotse people any different from his predecessors. He, in fact, went on to record the highest number of detentions and mass arrests, with over 84 Barotse people arrested and tried for treason in 2013 for reminding him about his promise to implement the abrogated Barotseland Agreement 1964 within ninety days of his presidency!

Nevertheless, our issue today is not how and why Sata failed to fulfill this electoral campaign promise to the Barotse and the nation at large! Our issue is that no one, not even the state security agencies or government operatives, ever called Mr. Sata to order for peddling what Emmanuel Mwamba, Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa, is today calling a non-issue on South Africa’s state broadcaster, SABC television. No one then called it a mistruth or a criminal offense under Zambian laws when Sata and his PF leaders campaigned on it!

We now wish to ask, as many rational thinking people should do, whether the late Mr. Sata was merely a deranged moron desperate for Barotse votes, or he was indeed being truthful about the apparent injustice that had been committed against the people of Barotseland for decades due to the non-implementation of the pre-independence Barotseland agreement Zambia signed with Barotseland and Her Majesty’s government in 1964.

It could only be that the government and the Zambian citizenry either thought Mr. Sata was a deranged moron or that he was a truthful and ingenious politician courageous enough to point at the elephant in the room!

Mr. Sata went on to win the national presidential popular vote thanks to his electoral campaign promises, including the Barotseland Agreement 1964! To this day, the founding father of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party is still regarded by many in his party as the greatest president Zambia has ever had!

Notwithstanding that he reneged his pre-election stance on Barotseland, as on many other promises such as on the Chinese and lower Taxes among other topical issues, the fact remains that the populace applauded him to be right on these issues, and that was why he was given the presidential mandate! Surely, the masses must have considered his campaign messages to be plausible! So, either he was a deranged moron or he was right and candid over the very important matter of Barotseland.

We wish to take the latter view, especially that no one among his critics in politics, civil society organizations, religious or government leadership ever stood up to say that he was not right over this matter. Those who responded to his campaign messages on Barotseland only cautioned him against using the emotive matter for political capital! But never that he was lying or inaccurate!

No one ever said the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 was a non-issue either!

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