Resolving Barotse Agreement of 1964 is the biggest challenge the Sata led government is facing today. It is far greater than the challenge from the opposition MMD and UPND opposition parties. It is very obvious that this issue shall not die a natural death as others have done in the past.
When defining Barotseland, it should be noted that the original Barotseland included parts of Copperbelt, Central province, Western pronvince, parts of Southern Province, and North Western province. However, much of the debate today centres on Western province. Indeed, western Province has remained to be one of the poorest parts of Zambia. It is also reported in some sections of the media that oil deposits have been discovered in Western province. Could oil be the
source of this hot debate? Is there an outside influence?
While researching on why Kenneth Kaunda abandoned the Barotse Agreement of 1964 (BA64), I have come across possible reasons. I call them possible reasons because I cannot find sufficient references to back them up. Speaking to KK, or the British government is an option to validate these theories.
CONSPIRACY THEORY #1: Threat from South African apartheid government
South African Apartheid government posed a greatest threat to the British colonial masters in the today called SADC region. The South African dominated government had earlier in the 20th century ruled Northern Rhodesia. In these areas, they did not seek local consent for them to establish federal offices. In Barotseland, they BSA got consent from the Litunga, the ruler of Barotseland. Sooner, they changed the name from Barotseland to North Western Rhodesia. This was done with no consent from the Litunga.
In 1951, BSA was abolished as the natives began getting more organised. This was the time a federation was formed. This federation did not include Barotseland. It was a federation of Southern Rhodesia,Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Litunga governed area was not part of this federation, though it should be noted that “He” the Litunga had lost a great area including all copperbelt and parts of north Western province to the federation.
After Zambia’s independence, which the Litunga agreed to, as he needed protection, and never wanted to be independent alone as Barotseland, the South African Apartheid government became too concerned of the independence movements in the region. It is believed that Zambia’s security intelligence got the information that South African Apartheid government had sent intelligent personnel to the Litunga, to persuade him to part from Zambia.
In 1969, on fearing that the Litunga may part from Zambia, and would take with him the all copperblt, which still remains the economical bread area of Zambia. KK was advised that abrogating the BA64 was the solution.
CONSPIRACY THEORY 2: Personal differences KK and the Litunga
It is alleged that the Litunga was given large sums of money by the Kaunda led government. It is also alleged that even today, the Litunga still gets a huge amount of money from the government. He is believed to have shares in several companies in Zambia.
Even though KK government provided direct financial benefit to the Litunga, and referred to him as a friend, KK was scared of the Litunga, fearing that he would one day want to be president. KK is on record of arresting his perceived opponents on several occasions. With the Litunga, he decided to abrogate the BA64 agreement to reduce his influence in the area. He also changed the name from Barotseland to Western Province.
CONSPIRACY THEORY #3: Agreement was not worth and costly to the government
This is the least convincing theory I found. But KK government saw the agreement as not worth and giving the Litunga powers was not worth the cost involved. At the time of independence, Barotseland had no resources to export to earn forex unlike other parts of the country. The Litunga influence had also decreased to western province only by 1968. He had completely lost control since the he gave the rights to BSA for minerals on the copperbelt.
There could be more conspiracy theories as to why Barotseland agreement was abrogated. The present generation should seek everlasting solution if Northern Rhodesia and North Western Rhodesia (Barotseland) are to remain a unitary state called Zambia. Otherwise, it will be in the interest of everyone involved to part if no lasting solution should be found now.
KK should also come into public and state the reasons why he abrogated the agreement. Sata should be brave enough too to bring out all documentations relating to the abrogation of BA64. Indeed, the Banda led MMD government enormously erred when they failed to listen to the concerns of the people of western province in January 2011. Banda and G. Kunda should be tried for the murder of peaceful protestors on January 14, 2011. They cannot claim to be innocent; they were the commanding authority at the time.
Knowing exactly why BA64 was abrogated and including it in history education books could be the beginning of a new chapter. They also need to state why western province remains the least developed area in the country. Why are new provinces and districts are formed and heavily funded when western province remains extremely under developed.
[By Michael Cholwe Kasonde]