Submissions of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to the Parliamentary Select Committee to Scrutinise the Constitution of Zambia Amendment bill no. 10 of 2019
The United Liberal Party would like to thank the Chairman of the Select Committee and the Committee for according the party an opportunity to submit a memorandum on ramifications of the proposed amendments on behalf of the BRE.
We wish from the onset to state that the BRE have only issue with three articles in the bill namely, articles 149, 165 and article 4(3).
On August 27, 2019, the Barotse Royal Establishment requested the United Liberal Party to present on its (BRE’s) behalf to the parliamentary select committee various concerns on proposed amendments to articles in the constitution of Zambia as contained in the constitution of Zambia (amendment) bill no. 10 of 2019.
The Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) is of the view that the proposed amendments to this Article could give the President excessive and unilateral powers to create, divide or merge provinces with recourse to and approval or consultations with the traditional stakeholders and parliament. The excessive power may be used for the alienation of parts of Barotseland and merge them with lands outside the jurisdiction of His Majesty the Litunga. The BRE considers the proposed amendment unconstitutional and a threat to the integrity of Barotseland and direct affront to the authority of the Litunga;
The BRE considers the proposed repeal of this article and its substitution with a provision that effectively requires ‘chiefs’ to be recognized by someone or some entity under an Act of Parliament the President and in turn empowering the person or entity to withdraw that recognition as unsuitable to the values and norms of Barotseland. The contention in this article is that it does not recognize or support the traditional structures of Barotseland, as there is no uniformity among traditional societies in Zambia; it denigrates the supremacy of His Majesty the Litunga of Barotseland of his territory. The provision would engender confusion, insubordination and lawlessness among some ethnic peoples that seek to rebel against established authority by declaring oneself as ‘chiefs’ when not a ‘chief’; thus creating and promoting insecurity.
The BRE feels that this Article even in its present state offends, violates and undermines the customary, traditional, legal rights and authority of the Litunga and National Council. The BRE resolved to advise strongly that this provision be withdrawn.
Article 4 (3)
This Article proposes to state that ‘the Republic of Zambia is a Christian, unitary, indivisible, multi – ethnic, multi – racial and multi – party democratic state. The BRE believes that the word indivisible defeats the spirit and purpose of a unitary state. The BRE wishes that this Parliamentary Committee will ensure that Bill No. 10 of 2019 includes Articles that acknowledge the fact that Zambia is a creation of two nations that agreed to unite into one nation and one people under the Barotseland Agreement of 1964. In this regard the BRE feel that the word “indivisible” be deleted.
The BRE also wants to bring to the attention of this committee the centuries long traditional government system of Barotseland, were the Litunga is an institutionalized symbol of authority and unity among the 38 ethnic groups and is the established medium of preserving the diverse cultural heritage. Traditions, customs and the cultural values of all the ethnic groups comprised in Barotseland revolve around the Litungaship.
The Litunga ensures that people in Barotseland choose their chiefs in accordance with their peculiar hereditary succession systems. Once correctly selected and chosen, chiefs are brought before the Litunga to be installed and given the instruments of power. Anything to the contrary constitutes a serious breach of our traditional values and cultural norms.
Arising from this background the position of the Barotse Royal Establishment and the people is that Barotseland shall remain united and all its thirty – eight (38) ethnic peoples remain one people under the leadership and direction of His Majesty the Litunga.
The Barotse Royal Establishment, further wishes to present to the Parliamentary Committee that it upholds and reminds the Government of Zambia of the provisions of Article 8 of the Barotseland Agreement 1964. This Article, inter alia, states unequivocally that; “the Government of the Republic of Zambia shall take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that the laws for the time being in force in the Republic are not inconsistent with the provisions of the Barotseland Agreement 1964”.
The BRE states that it shall not accept any constitutional provisions, which are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, more so that we are in the process of healing the wounds that Barotseland suffered in the past by acknowledging its constitutional status within a United Zambia.
The United Liberal Party believes that the concerns raised by the Barotse Royal Establishment are genuine and requires the serious attention of the Chairman and the Parliamentary Committee.
We would propose on behalf of the BRE that in order to take into account the concerns of the BRE, a Proviso be put to Article 149 that will make it clear that Political boundaries of districts and provinces do not affect customary and tradition boundaries and jurisdictions.
We therefore propose inclusion of a proviso with wording to the effect,
“Provided that no creation or merger of a district or province shall affect the traditional or customary authority or jurisdiction of existing customary traditional Paramount Chiefs, Senior Chiefs and Chiefs authorities’ existing jurisdiction or physical boundaries”.
We further suggest that upon creation, merger or division of a province or district the traditional and customary authorities be consulted to take into account and peculiar local issues that may be relevant.
With regards to the preamble Article 4(3) the BRE seek to have recognition of the unitary status of Zambia being based upon the BAROTSELAND Agreement of 1964. For this reason the BRE would propose that the Barotseland Agreement be recognized in the Constitution as the basis for Zambia being a unitary state
We feel that these proposals will enhance the Bill which is before your committee.