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Zambia: Barotseland becomes hotbed of contention

The Zambia Watchdog reports that two people were killed after rioting broke out in Mongu, the capital of Western Province over reinstatement of the Barotse Agreement of 1964. It very much appears that this issue cannot be ignored as unrest grows. Long considered a non-issue because of the backdoor political posturing that occurred through decades of one party rule, Barotseland appears to finally have become a hotbed of contention.

As we will see in this post, there are clearly very strong feelings on either side of this argument. It is clear that tensions among Zambians, who are made up of over 70 different tribes, are rising. The comments below come from a blog post entitled, “Police kill two in Mongu protests over Barotseland agreement.”

Vinobs writes:

let us cut off the sand area and creat a border at Kazungula and Mumbwa / mongu road where we will demand for a passporsst and visas before they can come to Zambia. (SIC)

Wink writes:

U cannot demand independence & at th same time demand zambia to finance barotseland administration and economic development, needless to say in the same measure like any part of zambia. This agreement is shallow, when you assert independence you should not expect to be taken care of period

However, there are those who believe that this call for succession is a critical part in the future of the Lozis.
Mwana’ Nyandi writes;

Well I hope the senseless talking will now come to an end. There is the full document which protects the sovereignty of Barotseland. The sad thing is that most so called Zambians are too narrow-minded to analyze issues critically. I want to help you understand one or two things
i) Those calling for the full restoration of Barotseland Agreement are not secessionists, the secessionists are those advocating for the abrogation of the agreement. The BA ’64 was a unifying document and to abrogate it as Zambia has done is to bring about the secession of Barotseland. The fact that the Agreement has been breached for all these years and Barotseland is still part of Zambia simply means Zambia has forcibly colonized Barotseland because Barotseland can only be part of Zambia on the terms of the Agreement.
ii)No where in the Barotseland Agreement does it talk about all these areas that the unlearned keep shouting about. Nowhere does it say that we want Copperbelt, Central or Southern Province. Barotseland is and has always been a well defined territory with historic maps and Barotse Self determination activists demand that the BA ’64 be restored in full or Barotseland is not oblidged to be part of Zambia. The Barotseland we talk about is one that is clearly defined by international statutes. No lamba, lenje or Tonga should have sleepless nights over the restoration of the BA ’64 because we mean them no harm.

Phiri Mweenda responds to Mwana’ Nyandi's arguments:

@ Mwana’ Nyandi please forwarned that much as you would love to have your own state in BA’64 agreements more peoples of the said or covered territory will still not be able to agree with what was contained therein.My only cocerns for the BA’ 64 agreement(s) is the issue for the LOZIs to include other regions such as Copperbelt, Cental province, Southern province , and Lusaka province. If we look critically on the general welbeing of these areas by tribal composition then wewill realise that provinces like Central have two differing tribal composition or make up which are: Lenje, Soli and a few Kaondes who are pro-Tonga in tribal aligment where as the other tribal groupings such as the Bisa and the Lala are are pro Bemba or are generally reffered to as Bembas and are generally tribal cousins to Easterners who plays the tribal cousin ship (CHIMBUYA). coming to LUSAKA province the same is what prevails with TSWAKA people and the Soli people being aligned to the Tongas while the tribes EAST of Chongwee are pro Easterners the Chikundas. who then can agree to be cut off from their genetic alignment under the so called BA’ 64?

Sibatana says that the situation in Western Province is a good example how how civil wars are born:

The recent protest in Western Province on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, resulting in very serious injuries and one death was something that should never have happened. But the government’s reckless behavior by ignoring Western province submissions to the new constitution has outraged the people of Barotseland. This is a good example of how civil wars are born. One little spark is capable of igniting a huge and destructive fire.

All this came about in August 2010, following the release of the final draft of the constitution. It was discovered then that all the submissions from western province were not included. Someone essentially thought they were not that important, and that Zambia can do just fine without them. Turned out to be a big mistake and recipe for disaster. Prior to this incident, when asked if he would ever thank the people of WP for tilting the presidential election results in his favor; president Banda is believed to have said; ” I did not ask for their votes.” As if that was not enough, the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia went to Western province and made a very troubling statement at the Ku-fuluhela gathering, which is reverse of Ku-omboka 2010. He publicly told the people; ” A Mulozi will never be president of Zambia.” People were so shocked that the Induna who was translating for him collapsed and passed out. Without an apology, he further demanded for another translator. The final nail on the unitary state coffin came when the constitution submissions from western province were thrown out of the draft. People who were in denial of government agenda can now smell the coffee. Hence the events of that fateful Saturday, after three requests to legally acquire public permit to hold a public meeting were denied by the pro Barotseland freedom advocates, not secessionists,

President Banda’s stance on the issue seems very clear as reported in MuviTV, he is alleged to have stated that government will only dialogue with the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) .

Furthermore, as Zambia moves towards upcoming Presidential elections in 2011, this unrest is being politicized by the very people who were very much a part of the machinery that suppressed the agreement in the first place. Both Rupiah Banda and the main opposition leader Michael Sata were ministers in former President Kaunda’s government, which signed the agreement. There is subsequent evidence that Michael Sata was a member of a committee that recommended expiration of the agreement.

A governance and human rights expert and a member of parliament have accused the opposition leader, Michael Sata, for the loss of life in Mongu ecause of his careless statements over the matter.

IQ disagrees with their analysis:

Simple minded people why blame Sata for every thing all he said was that the barotse Agreement is real and its true. Just read it on Goggle if you can and Judge for yourself. The problem is that you all so scared of Sata the veep can sleep everybody now it you mwanajidi. Issue based campaigns will save MMD not the mud you are throwing at Sata please.
People can tell that some thing has gone terribly wrong in MMD the think tank for MMD is no more. shame. You blame the post and Sata for everything even when the post talked about Project Water you said its not true but it has come to pass.

So does Party Adviser:

Mr machungwa [MP] and Mwnajiti [Governance consultant] are MMD cadres whose comments are not balanced. In any case no normal person can believe this scrap. All those responsible for the confussion are being pursued by the police, Sata is not among them. Please comment sensibly.

Freeman says Sata's statements may have worsened the situation. He also says that he does not feel sorry for the man who was shot dead by the police:

Irresponsible statements from Sata may have contributed too anyway. But I dont understand a damn thing now on what these Lozis want. The BA does not in any way talk about secession. Some of these arsonist, whom we shall cage as Zambians, have not even read the Agreement at all and yet they claim to be champions. Whats their objective and what do they want to achieve? Are they truly for peace or they just want to make a name?
Honestly, a man wanting to set ablaze a filling station deserves to die. Well done police and I dont even feel remorseful for this criminal who should rot now. If the intention of the so called secessionists was good, why prepare knives and all those weapons. Thats st.upid to say the least. This shows that people wanted to fight and I assure you that they shall meet them with full force. Proceed if you doubt but I assure you that the wrath of the law shall visit these fools.

OBINNA writes:

You *** Sata has never at any point advocated for secession, but merely pointed at the fact that the BA64 [the Barotse Agreement of 1964] is valid. Now for those who have read the AGREEMENT, there is no where it talks about seceeding. Why are you giving Sata so much credit, a lot of eminent politicians have commented including HH.

It is quite clear that the upheaval for the succession of Barotseland is just the beginning. It would be prudent for Zambia to take note.

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