By Sity Mwitu
What should constitute a crime, to continue to be married to an abusing thief as a husband and fail to report such a person to the relevant authorities or report such a person to the police and file for divorce before the courts of law? Usually many potential husbands come in different shapes and forms that do not reveal their true identity or criminality. In hot pursuit of love, they will do anything to please their potential or would be spouses. Some have even gone to the extent of buying their potential or would be spouse fancy clothes, shoes, cars or even houses just to demonstrate that they are the Mr. Right, but once married their true character or identity surfaces. In law we are told that ignorance is no defense.
Many Barotse and non Barotse intellectuals of profound standing both in Zambia and in the Diaspora have continued to add their voice regarding the continued abrogation without shame of the Barotseland Agreement by the Zambian government and the need by the Zambian government to restore the agreement, abide by its dictates and to include the agreement in the Draft Zambian constitution if Zambia as a unitary state would continue to stand the taste of time. But can a criminal oblige to observe the law if his prosperity thrives on breaking the law? I do not think so. The marriage between Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia was not a marriage of convenience, but a strategic partnership that yielded Zambia today. If the people of Barotseland discover later on that in 1964 they had wedded a criminal, is it not their constitutional right to seek redress in the international court of law or justice regarding their infringed rights as an equal partner to the agreement? If those that have been in government beginning with Dr. Kaunda, who is the Chief Architecture of Barotseland Agreement Abrogation to H.E. Mr. Rupiah Banda, who wants to completely kill the presence of the Barotseland Agreement in the constitution, why can’t the people of Barotseland retain their original status? Another interesting question one would like to ask is if it were the late President Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, was he going to take the same violent path or action RB is taking to completely kill the Barotseland Agreement? What I know is that in a marriage, what normally holds or legitimizes a marriage is the marriage certificate unless a couple were married without a marriage certificate then each spouse is free to end the marriage in the way they deem fit. Even in such a case, the aggrieved spouse would still seek the intervention of the courts of law in the dissolution of their marriage.
The formation of Zambia was basically the coming together of two separate states or nations that is Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia and this is really what happened. Following the talks in London between the British Government, the Government of Northern Rhodesia and The Litunga of Barotseland; an Agreement regarding the position of Barotseland within independent Northern Rhodesia was concluded at the commonwealth Relations office on 18th May, 1964. 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 the Litunga of Barotseland and by the Right Honourable Duncan Sandys M.P Secretary of State for common wealth Relations and for the colonies signifying the approval of Her Majesty’s Government. This was the birth of Zambia as a unitary state in 1964.
But if the MMD government has finally decided to break the code that was binding the two nations then Barotseland has the right to self determination and it will be wrong for anyone to call people names or even to threaten violence or death on those advocating for the self determination of Barotseland. The current Litunga should not make the same mistake his predecessor Sir Mwanawina Lewanika III made by bonding Barotseland to a nation of thieves forever. A couple can be in marriage for fifty years, but still break up if any of the spouses believes he or she is receiving a raw deal in that marriage. The quickest way of ending a marriage is when a spouse becomes unfaithful. In this case, the first Republican President Dr. K Kaunda has been unfaithful and he is still unfaithful by keeping quite when he knows the reasons why he penned his signature on that agreement. When Dr. Kaunda penned his signature on the Barotseland Agreement was he fooling the Litunga as well as Her Majesty the Queen of England? Was Dr. Kaunda’s signing of the Barotseland Agreement with Malice afore thought or was there a conspiracy between Dr. Kaunda and the Queen of England? No matter what happens later on an agreement is an agreement and this is the reason why most of the mining investors were not happy when the MMD government, during the reign of the late President Mwanawasa, introduced the Windfall tax that they thought was an abrogation of their Mining Development Agreement with the government of the Republic of Zambia and they sort a court redress regarding the issue.
Whatever strategies the Zambian VP may try to come up with or to neutralize or water down the importance of the Barotseland Agreement, the Litunga must know that the people of Barotseland are watching him from every corner of the Earth. Their ears are on the ground and they are waiting to see how the history of betrayal will continue to repeat itself and whether the same mistake will be repeated. The Litunga should also know that in modern societies, when the Monarch fails the people, it is not difficult for the people to do away with such a system that does not represent the aspirations of the people. The Litunga must know that the people of Barotseland are tired of being forced to be bonded to a bunch of thieves forever. When the eyes of the world are still on Sudan, the Litunga of Barotseland should wake up and bring his grieves before the International community. He must know that he is the Litunga because of many Lozis hailing from Barotseland. The omission of the Barotseland Agreement in the Draft Zambian constitution should not be taken lightly, but as a wakeup call for him. Once they succeed to completely kill the Barotseland Agreement by not including in the Draft constitution, he will wake up one day only to find out that he has been de-gazetted as the Paramount Chief or King of Barotseland. There is an adage which says, “Once beaten, twice shy”. This is a timely warning to both the Litunga and the peoples of Barotseland.