Friday, 12 July 2019 | By Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post
Yes! Zambia’s current Western Province is the only territory in Zambia still protected by special international treaties, most recently the 1964 Barotseland Agreement and the 1953 Northern Rhodesia (Barotseland) Order in Council signed on the 30th of April at the Court at Windsor Castle – which mapped out the current boundaries of Barotseland Protectorate which Kenneth Kaunda later renamed Western Province in 1969.
Although the performance or implementation of these treaties is not specifically outlined in the Zambian constitution and are largely still a controversial affair, they actually still apply in earnest!
This is why granting the Republican President sweeping powers that could unilaterally alter western Province’s boundaries would be a violation of these treaties!
Only last year, many Zambians were shocked to hear the Zambian Minister in charge of Land, Hon Jean Kapata, report to the Zambian Parliament that the newly proposed National Land Policy would be applicable only to all other provinces of Zambia except Western Province, and she called it Barotseland, because the latter was constitutionally under a different land tenure system that would not permit the implementation of the land policy under consideration!
The problem with many Zambians is that they have been kept so ignorant of this aspect of their past under the mistaken view that it has no relevant bearing on the present and future existence of their nation!
However, no sane and knowledgeable person can argue against the uniqueness of the Lozi speaking people of Zambia and the special nature of their homeland, Barotseland, which is today also controversially known as Western Province!
One Zambian Lawyer once summed it up this way:
“Zambians who come from the other provinces must understand that the ‘Western Province’ has a legitimate claim to be part of Zambia on a DIFFERENT BASIS to the rest, and cannot in good conscience try to gloss over and arrogantly dismiss this fact, as has been the practice in the past.” Dr Rodger Chongwe, 2010.
Another Zambian Lawyer, Dr. Ludwig Sondashi, wrote recently in chapter 8 of his latest autobiography titled ‘TRUTH is not an easy road’ on the subject of the defunct Barotseland Agreement 1964 as follows:
“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!”
Therefore, the Lozi or Barotse people who occupy that territory are distinct PEOPLE! They qualify to be PEOPLE! They are not to be treated superior, but must be treated accordingly in all national considerations because they have internationally recognized inalienable rights that must be upheld by every responsible state, failure to which amounts to a violation of their human rights!
The right of all PEOPLES to self-determination is one of the core principles of international law and, by virtue of its erga omnes status, it is the responsibility of all states to ensure that this right is realised.
The obstruction or violation of this principle, particularly through the use of force, such as arrests, torture and imprisonment, constitutes a very serious violation of international law.
Accordingly, a PEOPLE, such as the Barotse, can only be said to have realised their right to self-determination when they have either:
(1) Established a sovereign and independent state
(2) Freely associated with another state or
(3) Integrated with another state after freely having expressed their will to do so.
The key word in points (2) and (3) is FREELY!
Therefore, the fundamental question is, have the Barotse people been freely making all these changes to their homeland (Barotseland) or is the Zambian State, in fact, imposing these changes on them using the state police, military or the sheer arrogance of numerical numbers – thereby infringing their rights as a PEOPLE!