Proposed Barotseland autonomy programme

By Austin Mbozi

Follow countrymen and women.   In order for us together to formulate a clear UPND program for Barotseland (we are not like PF mediocre cadres who do not formulate programs), let us proceed as follows:

State one: I will submit this article proposition on what should be UPND program for Barotseland. Then you submit comments/amendments as bloggers.

Stage two. I am inviting you Professor Imasiku Imenda (as mastermind of Barotse activism) to respond to my article, taking note of the Watchdog reader’s comments. Your response should get published by the Watchdog. Again bloggers must comment on professor Imenda’s reactions.

Stage three. I am inviting you, Mr Mweene Kaluwa, Secretary of the Nkoya Royal Establishment, or any other Nkoya representative, to give the Nkoya side of the story.  Then again you bloggers must debate his reactions.

Stage four. We then will ask the UPND chairman for Local Government, to publish on Watchdog a detailed proposal, roadmap and budget on how UPND will proceed to solve the Barotseland issue once and for all. This should be taken as the UPND official policy on Barotseland. So I am inviting you sir to follow this discourse here. If you don’t submit on Watchdog when it is your turn, we will organize to demonstration at your office demanding a Barotse policy.

I am merely trying to implement my earlier proposal that UPND NEC officials must (before they form government) give detailed policy, programs and roadmap of how the party in government would approach various issues.  UNPD manifesto, correctly, says they would fulfil the Barotseland Agreement. But to prevent the party from failing the way PF and all previous government have failed we must pressurize them now to give clear cut details. They should not just be letting President Hakainde Hichilemma do all the thinking, talking and campaigning.

Look at UPND situation. Barotseland activists, as far as they are concerned, have seceded from Zambia. They are even tearing the Zambian constitution while formulating their own. Now supposing that they refuse to participate in the 2016 general elections? Where will UPND, which enjoys the second largest vote base in Barotseland, get its votes to propel it to power?

If UPND does not give a clear roadmap now, Barotseland may not vote in 2016. But if UPND does, Barotseland activists may suspend their secession demand in the hope that the next government will fulfill the Agreement.

Below are my proposals on what UPND must implement in stages:

Stage one:

 By the end of December 2016, the UPND Government should appoint a Constitutional Commission,well represented by various Barotse groups, to get submissions for a   democratic Barotseland Regional Government, which shall govern Barotseland when the 1964 Agreement is implemented.

While we agree that the Zambian Government must honor the Agreement we must also  be aware that without a constitution that will democratize the Barotse regional government, implementation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 will lead to chaos in that region.

The brief history below shows that many of Barotseland’s problems arose due to lack of democracy within that region.

Here is the brief history.

Pre-Lewanika blood spilling kings.

Before Lubosi Lewanika ascended to power in 1878, most previous kings came to power by killing ruling kings and their followers.  This instability led to Bulozi having 17 rulers in about 200 years namely; Mbuyu, Mboo Muyunda, Inyambo, Yeta I, Ngalama, Yeta Nalute, Ngombala, Yubya, Mwanawina, Mwananyanda Liwale, Mulambwa Santulu, Silumelume and Mubukwanu. Then the Makololo rule (1840-1864) had Sibitwane and then his son Sekeletu. After overcoming the Makololo, Sipopa Lutangu took over, and then Mwanawina (II).

The Makololo Invasion. 

If Bulozi had been democratically transferring power, the Makololo from Shaka Zulu’s South Africa may not have conquered the Kingdom. But the Makololo found Bulozi weak and divided. The factions of Mubukwane on the one hand and that of Silumelume on the other were at war over power.

Lewanika: bringing whites to protect his personal life.

Although officially Lewanika signed the 1890 Lochner Concession ‘to protect his Kingdom from colonialism’ the fact was that Lewanika’s more crucial motive was to protect his personal hold on power.   Several historians, including Dr Mutumba Mainga Bull (2010), Dr Caplan (1968) etc attest to this. The hero warrior who led the overthrow of the Makololo was Njekwa. But as a ‘commoner’ he handed over power to Sipopa Lutangu. The despotic Sipopa was shot at during a revolution led by his own Ngambela, Mamili. Mamili put a seventeen year old boy Mwanawina II as Litunga. But the boy was Mamili’s puppet. So the Lozi overthrew Mwanawina and called Lubosi Lewanika to take over on a silver platter 1878. In 1884, Tatila Akufuna, a Mbunda speaker, overthrew Lubosi Lewanika. But after a brief life in exile Lubosi regained power in 1885, vengefully brutally killing  even children of those he thought threatened his hold on power. To prevent any further overthrow and a possible conquest by Mzilikazi’s Ndebele, he sought the protection of whites.

If you re arguing, tell us  why Lewanika bullied his way into signing that Lochner Concession and then decided to humiliate his own most powerful Ngambela Mwauluka and Induna Nalubutu,  who  put him in power,   for threatening to dispose him if he continued dealing with whites?  Even the French missionary, Francois Coillard reported that Lewanika visited him one night (by the fireside? ) asking for guns to shoot his political rivals. But when the missionary politely declined the charismatic Lewanika , according to Caplan (1970:45) later said.’’ Why not ask me why I want them (white soldiers ) for myself? …It is to protest myself against those (pointing at the Indunas). You do not know them; they are plotting against my life.”

Yes, his kingdom became stable and was granted protectorate status under him. But it is lack of internal democracy that forced him to invite whites, who protected him to become the longest serving ruler- 37 years. Worse,  undemocratically, the British Administrator Laurence Aubrey Wallace supported by the Resident McKinnon, dictated that Lewanika’s son, Litia  (among the first ma Lozi  to attend mission school) should be Litunga when Lewanika  died in 1916, and threatened that any one preferring other candidates (who were also eligible)  will be ‘dealt with accordingly’.

In ‘gratitude’ to the Indunas for ‘agreeing’ he made another undemocratic declaration. All those indunas will also be succeeded by their children.   Don’t be surprised if today you find a Lozi challenging why only Lewanika’s offspring should be Litungas and the power authenticity of the current indunas.

The Nkoya: conquest of tribes and making them slaves or subjects.

Bulozi had little democratic credentials. Rather than incorporating all conquered tribes as equals within Bulozi, the Lozi ruling elite formed a caste system. Only, the ‘true Lozi’ , the offspring of Mbuyu wa Mwambwa were entitled to rule.  The Mbunda from Angola, were palace medicine men.  The Nkoya, who even though independent, needed Lozi approval for key decisions, including anointing of their chiefs,.  The Nkoya have Lozi blood. Mbuyu wa   Mwambwa settled in Bulozi from Congo in late 16th century. Her children then shared in ruling the tribes they found in Bulozi. One son, called  Mboo,  became the first Lozi king. Another son called Manenga migrated eastwards and became the ancestor  of the Nkoya of Mwene Mutondo. Another son called Isikena is believed to the father to Sihoka (or Sihokanalinanga) the ancestor to the Nkoya of Mwene Kahere. So as is seen the founding rulers of the Lozi, Nkoya Kahere and Nkoya Mutondo were blood brothers. Besides this they are highly intermarried.  Even Sir Mwanawina Lewanika III, who signed the Barotseland Agreement, had a Nkoya mother, though born at Lealui.   The third class were actual slaves. These were captured peoples, some of whom like the Ila and Toka were simply contentiously called  Mashikulumbwe. They could be killed to accompany a dead king or Ngambela to the grave.

This undemocratic class system created deep internal conflicts, mistrust, suspicions and instability.

Struggle between appointed  indunas and elected democratic

The British Government, partly, rejected Barotseland‘s independence calls or fear of internal chaos since power-sharing democratic institutions had not materialized in that region.  In 1947, Provincial Commissioner A.F.B Glennie revised the Katengo Council, a Barotse Parliament; hoping ultimately to replace the Litunga-appointed Indunas with elected people’s representatives.

But the new Litunga, Sir Mwanawina Lewanika III (educated at Lovedale College in SA and knighted by the Queen in 1959) frustrated the democratization of Barotseland. This created a revolt against him especially that he also supported the Federation and was suspected to have killed the previous Litunga (his half brother Imwiko) and his son Akashambatwa Imwiko.   Mwanawana also dismissed Ngambela Kalonga Wina who saved under Imwiko. This must explain the hostility which Wina’s children, Arthur and Sikota Wina, had against  Mwanawina and their joining Kaunda’s UNIP against their own Litunga.

The  84% victory of UNIP members in the 15th August 1963 Katengo Barotse ‘parliament’ proved clearly the unpopularity of Mwanawina’s undemocratic rule among the Lozi;  forcing him to allow his Salisbury (Harare)-based lawyer L.K Wilson to draft a democratic constitution for an independent Barotseland. But it was too late.  UNIP elected members demanded a Barotseland Agreement within Zambia, and forced the Litunga-appointed Ngambela Siyubo to resign in preference for an elected one, Hastings Noyoo.

Again, we see that the undemocratic Barotseland led to many Lozi joining UNIP and then it led to Kaunda violating the Barotseland Agreement with their support.  Arthur Wina (finance minister) transferred Barotse Treasury Funds to Lusaka while Munukayumba Sipalo (local government minister) abolished the Barotse Government.

This shows that without democracy, Barotseland may not stand.

Stage two:

           Barotseland only, referendum draft constitution

After a constitution draft as suggested above,  a referendum involving only Western Province residents and any Zambian that have lived in western province for at least two years consecutively  shall then be conducted. The central question of this referendum should be:

(a)   Having read and understood this constitution of Barotseland, do you agree that the Zambian Government should grant regional autonomy to a Barotseland that is managed along the lines drafted in this constitution?

Should the Barotseland majority, say at least 51%, say  ‘yes’  then the UPND Zambian Government should implement it.

This referendum should only involve the people of Western Province, not mainstream Zambians. A referendum or plebiscite is conducted only to the effected group. You can’t ask the rapists to vote whether their victims should be released!  Yet, in the 1969 referendum Kaunda asked all Zambians (the Barotse ‘rapists’) whether the Barotseland Agreement must be fulfilled and called it a democratically agreed position!

Kaoma/Nkoya. This questionnaire should take into account what the majority of the people of Kaoma say. Should the majority within Kaoma agree, then UPND can implement the Barotseland Agreement even to Kaoma. If they refuse then Kaoma District should be left out of the Barotseland autonomous province.

If Barotseland generally agrees to this regional constitution, the Barotseland Agreement must be included in the Zambian Constitution.  Kaunda easily violated the Agreement because he refused to include it in the Zambian Constitution.

Stage three:

 Five year implementation experiment in Barotseland

State four:

Implementation of regional government countrywide.

If after five years the regional government in Barotseland works effectively then it may be used as an example to implementing regional governments in all the genuine nine provinces (excluding the PF’s tribalistically motivated Muchinga). If it fails in Barotseland then no need of implementing it countrywide.

Professor Imenda, do not reply yet. First let me submit the specific areas that the Barotse regional constitution must address such as Barotse   citizenship, Barotse regional parliament, Litungaship powers, Ngambelaship powers, regional ministries, power sharing with the Nkoya and relationship with mainland Zambia.  Meanwhile bloggers, you can start your submissions.

[email protected]

Share this post