The Barotse National Freedom Alliance, (BNFA) has stated that it cannot and will not take part in any negotiations with the Zambian government over the defunct Barotseland Agreement of 1964.
Reacting to the announcement by the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) on Monday that it was now ready for dialogue with the Zambian government over the agreement and that it will soon constitute a dialogue council to meet the Zambian government, the BNFA has stressed through a statement that there was nothing to negotiate on the Barotseland Agreement adding that negotiations were concluded prior to signing in 1964 but the Zambian government defaulted and legislated against the agreement.
‘There is nothing to negotiate about the Barotseland Agreement 1964 as insinuated by the BRE press statement of April 16, 2018. The negotiations were done and concluded before the co-signing of the Agreement. What should have followed was implementation; but the Zambian regime defaulted and legislated against its own obligations,’ reads part of the statement.
It further states that the Zambian government systematically destroyed the governance system of Barotseland and superimposed its own system over Barotseland using state oppression.
The BNFA has charged that the BRE has completely no role in the post 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC) and is not a recognised institution of governance in Barotseland adding that it only represents the Litunga Edwin Lubosi Imwiko and his self-appointed stewards.
‘BRE turned against the wishes and aspirations of the people of Barotseland as enshrined in the 2012 BNC resolutions. Today, BRE and the Zambian regime are partners in the continued oppression of Barotseland and are acting together in the deception over the restoration of the BA64. They both have no mandate whatsoever to negotiate the now null and void BA64,’ the statement reads.
It has maintained that it (BNFA) was determined to re-institute the Barotseland government and that in any case; the people of Barotseland have already decided to disengage from Zambia through the 2012 BNC resolutions.
The BNFA has further warned that whoever does not support the 2012 BNC resolutions is an enemy of Barotseland and that anyone who will take part in the BRE/GRZ machinations is an enemy of Barotseland.
It argues that there was no pre-dialogue or any dialogue when the Zambian government unilaterally abrogated the agreement in 1969 despite protests from the Barotse government.
The other major Barotse freedom movement, Linyungandambo has also refused to be part of the dialogue council which the BRE wants to constitute.
Edgar Lungu said he was ready for dialogue and was only waiting for the BRE to set up a committee to meet his team. Lungu however has set conditions that whatever will be agreed has to fit in the current Zambian constitution, meaning there will be no re-establishment of the regional parliament as the case was before the agreement was terminated. It is not clear as to what Lungu wants to ‘restore’. He is on record to have promised the African Union that he will resolve the Barotse impasse locally and at one time in 2016 he said if the two parties fail to agree then they can ‘part company’ via a referendum.
Ironically, the Linyungandambo leader Afumba Mombotwa and two of his colleagues remain in prison serving 10 year jail sentences over the same Barotseland Agreement which Lungu is claiming to be ready to resolve through dialogue.
Edgar Lungu and the Litunga want to constitute delegations to represent Barotseland and Zambia that will engage in dialogue in an attempt to resolve the impasse on the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 which the two former British protectorate and colony respectively signed in London in 1964 leading to the two countries joining to form the Republic of Zambia.
Zambia however held a referendum in 1969 and voted against the agreement but maintained its hold on Barotseland by ‘force’ and changed its name from Barotseland to Barotse province and later Western province while the Barotse government and Barotse parliament (Katengo legislation Council) were abolished and replaced with the Barotse Royal Establishment with lesser powers.