By George Chellah
Sata maintained that the Barotse Agreement was still legitimate and President Rupiah Banda simply needed to show honour by acknowledging its validity and existence.
“There is no honest person who can deny the existence and validity of the Barotse Agreement. And those with honour and integrity honour valid agreements they have entered into whether they still like them or not,” Sata said. “The PF government will honour the Barotse Agreement without hesitation because we have no problems with it. We see nothing wrong with it.”
Sata said Zambians needed to learn to live in a country of diversity and that it was also a fundamental principle even in international law for successive governments to honour agreements they find.
“We have always said we have nothing to fear about the Barotse Agreement. It is a decent agreement that must be honoured,” Sata said. “Only crooks, dictators who want everything to be controlled by them from Lusaka can fear the Barotse Agreement.”
Sata said the Barotse Agreement was not about secession but a higher and advanced form of national unity.
“How can an agreement that brought our country together as a unitary sovereign state, be seen to be a divisive instrument; to be about secession and treason?” Sata wondered. “The Barotse Agreement united and brought together what was not united; what was divided. It is an agreement that brought unity in diversity to our people and as such must be honoured and respected.”
He said intimidation and threats of treason would not resolve the matter.
“How can an agreement that exists be treasonable? That agreement is real, so what’s treasonous about that? In fact, the peace and unity that Zambia has enjoyed since independence as a sovereign state can be partly attributed to the Barotse Agreement,” Sata said. “PF would like to see to it that Zambia remains an oasis of peace by engaging the people of Barotseland over the Barotse Agreement and ensure that their grievances are resolved once and for all.”
And reacting to Vice-President George Kunda’s statement that politicians should stop exhibiting double standards on the independence of the judiciary, Sata said Vice-President Kunda should keep “his dirty hands” off the judiciary.
Sata urged Vice-President Kunda to be sincere.
“Yes, the judiciary’s independence is an anchor to the rule of law and constitutionalism but George Kunda is certainly not the right person to lecture anybody on the importance of judicial independence or autonomy because he has failed the judiciary. We know what we are talking about here,” Sata said.
“Let the government not meddle in the affairs of the judiciary. We are well informed; hence we know what is currently obtaining. Let them also fund the judiciary adequately because it’s only when the judiciary is comfortable that we are going to get impartial justice. So Kunda should keep his dirty hands off the judiciary.”
He said government should not intimidate the judiciary.
Sata said Chief Justice Ernest Sakala’s statement that poor funding was undermining the autonomy of the judiciary was a serious indictment on Vice-President Kunda.
“The judiciary is under George Kunda since he is also the Minister of Justice. Therefore, for the Chief Justice, who is the head of the judiciary to openly complain about poor funding, it’s a clear vote of no confidence in Kunda’s leadership. In short, the judiciary has passed a vote of no confidence in Kunda,” Sata said. “I commend justice Sakala for his bravery. He has complained to the Vice-President and Minister of Justice publicly that the judiciary is under-funded. George Kunda should just resign because the judiciary has passed a vote of no confidence in him.”
He said Vice-President Kunda should not divert attention from justice Sakala’s exposure of his inefficiency as minister in charge.
“The Chief Justice didn’t complain about not being respected. He complained about funding, so George Kunda should not escape by dragging politicians in the matter. Let him just swallow his pride and own up,” Sata said. “In any case, what can be worse than having those respectable people in wigs begging? Let George Kunda and friends not reduce the judiciary to beggars. The state should not put undue influence on the judiciary by not funding them.