A peaceful settlement of the Barotse Agreement of 1964, is almost in sight due to intervention by the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights, , says former Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) Ngambela Clement Sinyinda.
Mr Sinyinda, who is now the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) chairperson said the issue, would be resolved amicably now that the Government was able to respond to the petition from the African Commission for Human and People’s rights.
In 2013 the BNFA submitted a 258 page petition of “forensic evidence” and arguments to the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), and according to Mr Sinyinda, the Zambia Government has pleaded for more time to respond to the petition which it had not seen.
The letter to the office of the Ngambela by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights says, “I write to inform you that the secretariat of the African commission received a correspondence from the respondent State (Zambian Government) requesting the Secretariat to forward to it the communication as it does not seem to have received it.”
The letter further reads: “The African Commission considered the request and decided to grant it and its secretariat has forwarded the complaint and the complainant’s submission on admissibility to the respondent State and has asked the latter to forward its arguments on admissibility within two months in line with Rule 105 (1) of the commission’s rules of procedure.”
Mr Sinyinda said following the information by the commission, there was hope that the issue surrounding the Barotse Agreement of 1964 would be resolved amicably.
He said the alliance was formed for the sole purpose of maintaining peace and order, adding that the people of Barotseland were patiently waiting for the Zambian Government to engage them in the process of actualizing the Barotseland Agreement of 1964.
“Looking at the stage we have reached, we are on course and everything is in the process, and we are very much sure that this issue is going to be resolved amicably by all the parties involved,
“And it is therefore important that people of Barotseland maintained peace in their quest for freedom to avoid loss of lives,” he said.
Mr Sinyinda said the commission at its 17th extraordinary session held last month, decided to grant the request by the Zambia Government and the secretariat of the commission has since forwarded the Barotseland complaint and submission on acceptability to the Government and requested them to submit its response within two months.
Last year, the Government turned down a challenge from the lawyers representing the Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) and the people of Barotseland that was written to the President to sign a Permanent Court of Arbitration submission agreement, saying the Government was unable to give a response in the absence of any particulars identifying their client, the BNFA, and people of Barotseland.
Mr Sinyinda said the road to Zambia’s independence in 1964 and the role Barotseland played in that process was known and documented.
It was against that background that the people of Barotseland, through the March 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC), resolved to accept the repudiation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 and thereby set in motion the process of separating the territories of Barotseland and the rest of Zambia.