SECESSION of Barotseland from the rest of Zambia does not arise in so far as the Barotseland Agreement is concerned, Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) first trustee William Harrington has observed.
In a letter dated 9th July 2015 to President Edgar Lungu, Mr Harrington said as a matter of fact, it was Government that ceded Barotseland from the rest of Zambia through its unilateral constitutional amendments without consultation with the other party to the agreement.
He observed that Government’s refusal to restore the agreement was unfortunate and regrettable.
Mr. Harrington said it was sad that the call for the restoration of Barotseland Agreement had continually fallen on deaf ears since first President Kenneth Kaunda abrogated the agreement despite constant calls to have it addressed.
“Failure, neglect or refusal by Government to restore the agreement is unfortunate and regrettable as restoration of the ‘marriage’ would put legitimacy of Government’s authority over Barotseland. The negative and often-times hostile position assumed by Government on the matter puts the legitimacy of Government’s authority over Barotseland into question and indeed legally challengeable,” Mr. Harrington said.
He explained that it was unfortunate that since the agreement was abrogated by Dr. Kaunda, successive Governments had also failed to honour it and had instead opted to play delaying tactics over the same issue which should have been concluded a long time ago.
“Regrettably, persistent calls for restoration of the ‘marriage’ between Barotseland and the rest of Zambia have fallen on deaf ears of successive Governments since the agreement was abrogated by first President Dr. Kaunda and his United National Independence Party (UNIP) government through autocratic and unilateral constitutional amendments.
“The constitutional amendments in effect tore up what can be referred to as the “marriage certificate” between the two parties to the agreement, thereby rendering Zambia a failed state as the document which bound the two areas together no longer exists,” he said.
Mr. Harrington was however optimistic that the issue could still be resolved amicably by President Lungu.
“My communication to you therefore, Your Excellency, is done in the firm and honest belief that room still exists for a peaceful resolution to this matter by allowing for international arbitration as being proposed by the BNFA, failure to which posterity may judge us harshly.
Indeed the issue of Barotseland has been a burning and thorny since 1969 but an amicable solution is within our grasp.
“Never before than now has this matter reached such a level that is threatening national peace.
I wish to place on record that whilst room may appear to still exist for a peaceful and sustainable settlement, time is fast running out,” he said.