The Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill 2019 plots against the Litunga and Barotseland – Like all others before it!
By Sibeta Mundia, Barotseland Post
“However, just like many of us had warned the BRE and the Litunga, the 2019 proposed bill not only maintains the status quo [depriving the king of his powers to dethrone and enthrone chiefs in Barotseland] but also goes further to give the Zambian President sweeping powers to divide, create or re-align provinces including Western Province [Barotseland].”
All Zambia’s successive constitutional amendments, starting from the 1965 amendments to the latest proposed Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill of 2019, have always had specific clauses targeted at stripping the Litunga, King of Barotseland, of his bona fide rights and powers over his Kingdom as well as depriving the Barotse people of their rights to self-determination.
In the latest 2019 constitutional amendment bill, for example, there is a clause that gives the President of Zambia exclusive powers to divide, dismember or create any province in Zambia, including Zambia’s Western Province which forms part of Barotseland, without any consultation with the people concerned, parliament or any statutory body in Zambia.
Here is what is proposed about Provinces and Districts:
“51. The Constitution is amended by the repeal of Article 149 and the substitution therefore of the following:
“149. (1) The President may create or divide a province or merge two or more provinces, as prescribed.
“(2) A province shall consist of such number of districts, as prescribed.” END.
Some people may argue that this is a harmless and well-intentioned clause. However, any keen follower of Zambian politics will know that this is the open cheque that the Zambian president will use to divide and obliterate Barotseland.
Here is a little background.
During President FTJ Chiluba’s era, a dangerous idea was formalised to divide and weaken Barotseland through ethnicity, particularly to isolate the Nkoya and Mbunda communities of Barotseland and create for them a separate province which would be called Kafue Province.
The implementation of this idea, however, would be politically and legally problematic at the time because there was no constitutional basis for it and in view of the historical context of the territory in question. So, it was simply deferred but never abandoned or renounced!
In the 2016 amended constitution, however, an attempt was further made to try and consolidate the Chiluba era idea when a clause was included in the Zambian constitution to the effect that the Litunga, King of Barotseland, would no longer have powers to dethrone or enthrone chiefs in Western Province (Barotseland).
This constitutional change in 2016 immediately resulted in the widespread rebellion of some chiefs, particularly those of the Nkoya and Mbunda communities in the region, with the full financial and political backing of the Zambian state, as these chiefs argued that the national constitution empowered them to enthrone their own chiefs without the longstanding oversight of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and the Litunga, claiming further that as Nkoyas and Mbundas, they were not a part of the ‘Lozi’ tribe.
The truth, however, is that Barotseland is one Kingdom with many tribes and communities all falling under the jurisdiction and Kingship of the Litunga, and must, therefore, be governed by the cultural and traditional norms of Barotseland – as the case has been for centuries!
And because these rebellions led to the BRE and King Imwiko II registering their displeasure publicly, warning the Zambian State not to interfere with the authority of the King of Barotseland over the governance of the territory, the public was later made to understand that some assurances were given to the BRE and the King that the ongoing 2019 constitutional amendments would specifically address that anomaly and ensure that the authority of the King of Barotseland was once again safeguarded.
However, just like many of us had warned the BRE and the Litunga, the 2019 proposed bill not only maintains the status quo [depriving the king of his powers to dethrone and enthrone chiefs in Barotseland] but also goes further to give the Zambian President sweeping powers to divide, create or re-align provinces including Western Province [Barotseland]!
What this new clause means is that President Edgar Lungu, for example, can now create the long-proposed Kafue Province by getting parts of Barotseland, Central and Southern Provinces as was mooted in Chiluba’s era – and he would be well within his constitutional powers!
It is a pity that the BRE, Lubosi Imwiko II and ‘Restorationists’ will once again be given false assurances that the clause in question will not be used to dismember Barotseland or take away the powers of the King of Barotseland.
Unfortunately, the BRE and the successive Barotse Kings in independent Zambia have always seemed powerless and useless, not being able to resist these amendments partly due to selfish interests and their insatiable love for money coupled with the arrogance and impunity of numbers on the part of those entrusted with Zambian state power, who decide to always use their political power to obliterate Barotseland because of petty envy and jealousy.
The ordinary Barotse people may once again attempt to resist these constitutional changes but what more can they do when they are a minority with no support from the selfish BRE and their powerless King? Those who will attempt to voice opposition may simply be arrested and tried in Kangaroo courts and handed lengthy jail terms, like Afumba Mombotwa and his Linyungandambo comrades, as the BRE look the other way, while the rest of Zambians will cheer “Fi kakeni fye! Fi payeni fye! Fi leleta cifulunganyo mucalo cesu ca Zambia!” (Arrest and kill these [Lozi] secessionists who seek to divide and bring confusion in our peaceful and united Zambia) with the usual parroting of the ‘One Zambia One Nation’ motto!
What is ironic also is that the Zambian State has always used known prominent Lozi as political idiots to disinherit their own!
Currently, the Lozis at the forefront of these constitutional changes are Zambia’s Attorney General, Likando Kalaluka, Minister of Justice Given Lubinda and Zambia’s Vice President Inonge Wina – the only three Lozi in high government positions in the entire over bloated Edgar Lungu-led Zambian government currently!
The only role of these elite Lozi, like others before them, is to give false assurances to Lubosi Imwiko II, the current King of Barotseland, and the BRE that all is well as these amendments will not be used to usurp the Litunga’s authority!
The question, however, is why doesn’t this proposed constitution state in ‘black and white’ that the Republican president’s powers to dismember provinces will not affect the Western Province [Barotseland] in honour of the existing historical and legal treaties and agreements as completed at independence?
Surely, this would be more reassuring to the King and his people!
Once again, we wish to implore the King of Barotseland, the BRE and the entire Barotse fraternity to outrightly reject the proposed constitution as they may one day wake up to a Barotseland further divided at the pleasure of the Zambian president!