Belwo is the letter Mbozi plans to present to UN Srcretary General Ban KI-Moon when he visits Zambia.
From: Austin Moonga Mbozi
C/0 University of Zambia
Department of Philosophy and Applied Ethics
P.O Box 32379, Lusaka, Zambia
Thursday 23th February 2012
To: The UN Secretary General
Mr Ban KI-Moon
On his visit to Zambia
Re: Zambian Peace: Assisting the Zambian Government to honor the 1964 Barotseland Agreement for the protection of territorial minority rights.
Your Excellence. I thank you for taking time to visit Zambia. Although I am a University lecturer and have used the University’s address, I am writing this letter not on behalf of the University or expressing University position, but in my own capacity as a Zambian Citizen. Ethnically I neither belong to the effected Barotse ethnic grouping nor am I I writing as their official spokesman. I am writing as an individual concerned with issues of international justice, fairness and protection of minority rights.
I thought this is the best opportunity to present this problem to you because the Barotse minority activists claim to have sent several petitions to the UN and got no intervention from your predecessors.
The specific requests to you
I write to you to take time to:
(a) Study the Barotseland –Zambia history and current situation. I urge you to study the territorial conflict between the Zambian Republic and Zambia’s Western Province formally called Barotseland and to
(b) Put pressure, or assist in mediation or funding if it cooperates, the Zambian Government to honor the 1964 Barotseland Agreement. This is an international Agreement which was signed by three nations namely; Northern Rhodesia, Barotseland and Britain. The Agreement united Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia which were both British protectorates to form Zambia. The Agreement gave semi-autonomous self-governing rights to Barotseland but the Zambian Government has violated the Agreement, causing a series of ethnically-related violent acts.
During the colonial era, the two territories of Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland were separate protectorates under the British Imperial Government. During the struggle for independence, the two territories decided to proceed to independence as one unitary state, to be called Zambia. Thus on 24th May 1964, the two territories signed the ‘Barotseland Agreement’ which united them together with provisions that the ‘Barotseland’ province, which has about 9% of Zambia’s population, would enjoy some autonomous self-governing rights. The Agreement was signed by Kenneth David Kaunda the Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia, King Lewanika the King of Barotseland and Duncan Sundays the Minister of State for Colonies. On 24th October 1964, Zambia got its independence from Britain. But ever since, the Zambian Government violated all the provisions of the Agreement and this has been a source of territorial grievance ever since.
The Kenneth Kaunda UNIP Party Regime (1964-1991). This regime signed but soon violated the Agreement and repressed all freedom of expression and arrested advocates of the Agreement.
The Fredrick Chiluba MMD Party Regime ( 1991-2001). This regime appointed a Commission of Inquiry over demands for the fulfillment of the Agreement which had increased at the time, but after that this Government made no further progress until it left office.
The Patrick Mwanawasa MMD Party Regime ( 2001-2008). For some reason, agitation for the restoration of the Agreement were not very strong during this period.
The Rupiah Banda MMD Party Regime ( 2008-2011). Two people were killed by police after the advocates of the Agreement resorted to declaring independence after the Government failed to honor the Agreement. More than 30 Barotse suspected activists were detained and a few more died after their release.
During this period, the current ruling Patriotic Front President Micheal Sata, at the time in opposition, promised to honor the Barotseland Agreement within 90 days of assuming office.
The Micheal Sata PF Party Regime ( 2011 to date). The current President Micheal Sata immediately released all the activists detained by the previous regime. But tensions are growing again because they are now declaring a self-governing territory and appointed a prime minister because they feel cheated by the current president because the 90-day filfilment promise he made during campaigns has passed and no tangible progress is being made. Their grievances are:
(a) Refusal to compensate Barotse victims. The current President has refused to compensate these detained by the previous regime whom he has released on grounds that they had no case to answer,
(b) Inappropriate Inquiry. The current President appointed a Commission to inquire why the previous regime shot at them instead of how to proceed in fulfilling the Agreement. Many Barotse submitted for the fulfillment of the Agreement. Up to now the Commission report is not made public,
(c) Recognition of the Nkoya ethnic minority. The current President is telling them it would listen to the ‘Nkoya grievances’. But the mainstream Barotse are against this. The Nkoya are a minority within Barotseland, who would rather be part of Zambia and not Barotseland in an event that the Barotseland Agreement is fulfilled. This problem is likely to be a problem within a problem. While my view that listening to Nkoya concerns is vital (via an only-Nkoya referendum) , the mainstream Barotse feel that the Presidents’ current position will delay or halt the implementation of the Agreement because he did not promise anything about Nkoya rights during his 90-day promise campaigns.
(d) Lack of a written road map/implementation plan. While the President is assuring that the ‘doors are open for dialogue’ he has not put up any proposals or road map for the Barotse activists to consider. They feel cheated because dialogue means that once they show the Barotseland Agreement to him as the document they want fulfilled, he must give a written alternative, so that they bargain and reach some agreement.
(e) Threats of police brutality. The President is threatening them with police brutality. When the Barotse activities appointed a prime minister, the President publicly called their ‘appointed’ prime minister ‘fake’, and publicly rebuked the Zambia Police Chief , Dr Martin Malama, to ‘stop smiling’ while an ‘illegal’ government is being formed. Dr Malama has since being dismissed.
(f) Kenneth Kaunda/President Sata contradictory historical positions on minority rights.
Former President Kaunda has of late been delegated as President Sata’s special envoy to international missions (Angola, China, Gabon). This has brought mistrust. Firstly, Dr Kaunda is the one who violated the Agreement. It is not clear how the current president would favor the Agreement violated by his own now special envoy. Secondly, if indeed Dr Kaunda is a special envoy, it is curious why the President should ask him to settle foreign diplomatic matters and not delegate him to solve the Barotseland Agreement which he abrogated. Third, during his reign Dr Kaunda, just after violating the local Barotseland Agreement, went on to recognize the Biafra Republic, which had declared independence from Nigeria on 30th May 1967 in the name of protecting Ibo minority rights ( against the OAU position). Fourth Dr Kaunda, when campaigning for a return to power in 1996, promised to fulfill the same Barotseland Agreement which he had initially violated. Fifth, President Sata in the 1990s as a minister under the MMD had vehemently opposed the implementation of the Barotseland Agreement.
This is not the kind of history that assures a negotiating process based on principle and trust.
(g) Accusations of nepotism. The current President has been accused of practicing unprecedented nepotism and tribalism by virtually all opposition parties , the Catholic Church etc by appointing a disapropriate number of persons to government positions from his region, creating a new province in his home region to increase funding there while in other regions he is demarcating them and attaching them under the rule of the regions dominated by his party and recently transferring a minister, Miles Sampa, to the province which is protesting that he insulted their ethnic grouping. Ethnic grievances are the most difficult issues for the UN.
International Instruments on Minority Rights
I draw your Excellency’s attention to the following international instruments, which you may invariably, in part or in full, draw your mandate to pressurize Zambia to honor the Barotseland Agreement:
(a) UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960),
(b) UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR, 1966)
(c) The Right to Self-Determination, Implementation of the UN Resolution 1980.
(d) African Charter of Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights ( ACHPR, 1982)
(e) ILO Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries ( 1989)
(f) UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992).
(g) UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ( 1993)
(h) Council of European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1994)
Need for UN Policy Clarification towards Minority Rights
Above all, the UN is called upon to re-examine and re-design its approach to minority rights demands. As the situation stands, the UN appears to have no clear criterion which it uses to guarantee self-governing rights to some groups and deny the same rights others. As a result, the UN tends to want until a group’s activism threatens world or regional peace before intervening. Two categories of groups are listed below:
Category 1: Countries allowed seceding by the UN:
In 1947 Pakistan seceded from India. In 1974 Bangladeshi seceded from Pakistan. In 1989 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania seceded from the Soviet Union. In 1992 Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan also seceded from the Soviet Union. Later, Slovenia and the Czech Republic seceded from Czechoslovakia. In 1992, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia. In 1993, East Timor seceded from Indonesia while Eritrea also seceded from Ethiopia. In 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan
Yet this is against the background that your grand predecessor as UN Secretary General U. Thant had warned that the UN does not condone secession! When addressing a press conference in Accra, Ghana in the 70s he said:
As far as the question of secession of a particular section of a state is concerned, the United Nations’s attitude is unequivocal. As an international organization, the UN has never accepted and does not accept and I do not believe it will ever accept the principle of secession of a part of its member states.
So what is the official position now? What is the position regarding Barotseland secessionist faction?
Category 2: Countries refused secession or not given clear positions by the UN
When it declared independence on 11th July 1960, Katanga was refused secession from Congo by the UN while the Biafra Republic was denied secession from Nigeria in 1967. In 1967, Comorian Island was denied secession from the Comoro Archipelago. As at now, Chechnya is denied secession from the Russian Federation, Abkhazia from Georgia, Kurdistan from Iraq and Turkey, Quebec from Canada and Gibraltar from UK and Spain (which are quarrelling over the territory). The Aaland Islands are not aided by the UN in the bid to secede from Finland and join the Swedish Kingdom, etc.
With these cases and arguments in mind, one may see the task of the UN to assist the Zambian Government to implement the Barotseland Agreement is easier now since they are not pressing for session. Should the UN wait it may find that the Barotse, out of frustration, begin to demand for the right to secede, which will be a more complicated task.
I hope the UN shall live by the mandate of its origins, right from the League of Nations to the UN formation in 1948, to prevent international conflict in a bid to guarantee world peace. The term ‘prevent’ is emphasized here because the UN, as seen in ethnically war-tone countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundu or Congo, it has tended to try to ‘resolve’ already existing wars, rather than preventing them from occurring.
We pray that your office should assist Zambia to resolve this conflict since the country is at the brink of ethically-based violence.
Attached are (a) Copy of the Barotseland Agreement, (b) copy of one of my published works on world’s ethnic grievances
University of Zambia
CC. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Zambian media
The Southern Africa Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes ( SACCORD)
Share this post