Friday, November 26, 2010

Problems over Barotseland have been left to worsen - Chongwe

Problems over Barotseland have been left to worsen - Chongwe
By George Chellah
Fri 26 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

LUSAKA lawyer Dr Rodger Chongwe says problems over the Barotseland Agreement have been left to worsen for a very long time. He urged Zambia to take advantage of the debate about the constitution to settle the matter.

Dr Chongwe said successive governments had skirted around the problem and no real effort had been made to address it with the traditional leaders of Western Province. He said the issues regarding the Barotseland Agreement would not disappear unless there was a will by all people to address them through the constitution.

“We cannot in good conscience try to gloss over and arrogantly dismiss this fact, as has been the practice in the past. We . . . made a deal with the Barotse Kingdom. We must now in all good faith acknowledge that we did not keep it. Our partners in the broken agreement have clearly not been happy with our behaviour for a long while. Let’s come together and put it right in our time,” Dr Chongwe said.

He explained that during the last stages of the constitutional conference in Marlborough, London, then colonial secretary Sir Duncan Sandys crafted an agreement, which he sold to Northern Rhodesia prime minister and Sir Mwanawina Lewanika of Barotseland to bring the two together to facilitate the fusion of the two areas to form Zambia.

Dr Chongwe said it appeared that a few of the delegates claimed to be aware of this side meeting, which took place alongside the main conference.

He said the representatives of Barotseland Protectorate argued with the colonial power regarding their own treaty with the British government, which led to its creation.

Dr Chongwe said the nationalists wanted Barot-seland to join Northern Rhodesia in its independence, as the two protectorates were part of one country.

He said Sir Mwanawina Lewanika agreed that the Barotseland Protectorate should join with the protectorate of Northern Rhodesia to form Zambia on condition that Barotseland retained its local autonomous while powers exercised over it by Britain would be surrendered to the new state.

He said the agreement which paved way for the fusion of the two protectorates was signed on May 18, 1964, by Sir Duncan, Sir Mwanawina and Dr Kenneth Kaunda and subsequently Zambia was created on October 24, 1964.

Dr Chongwe said the agreement was repealed without discussion and this was the genesis of the problems regarding Western Province.

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