OPINION: BA’64 dialogue with the GRZ; what is to be discussed and what are the expectations?

18 April 2018
Author  Saleya Kwalombota

The nation of Barotseland was on 16th April 2018, greeted with news pertaining to the impending dialogue over the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 with the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

The press release on dialogue follows the statement by Zambian President Edgar Lungu ahead of the 2016 elections when he expressed willingness to sit around the table and conclude the impasse once the BRE (Zambia's institution) was ready.

The impending dialogue on the Barotseland impasse will not be of any help for as long as the Zambian Government ignores the facts of laws governing treaties. Faced with this, the only option is to agree on the process of peaceful disengagement or having a "referendum". The latter is however not in conformity with the rules governing treaties since the BA64 was never in force.

Hoping to lure Barotse people to undo the 2012 BNC resolutions will be an exercise in futility.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, to which Zambia is a signatory, underlines the principle that no treaty is sacrosanct if the other party does not honour it. In a nutshell, it is the unilateral termination of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, by the Zambian Government, which justifies the call for, and gives legal force to, Self-Determination for Barotseland.

Given that the dialogue is an attempt to address the contentious and complex issue of the abrogated BA64 treaty, it must have momentum and direction since the boundary of Barotseland is not in controversy as it is well documented. In fact, the territory referred to as Barotseland is well elaborated in the 1905 Anglo-Portuguese boundary dispute arbitration and Article 125 of the Northern Rhodesia Independence Order 1964. This fact is highlighted in the Order-in-Council of 1924, 1953 and 1963.

No nation can take away the sovereignty of another. Barotseland has never been at war with Zambia or surrendered its sovereignty through BA64.

Therefore, colonialism of the territory by Zambia is illegal and counterproductive. It must be emphasized that Zambian citizenship has never been accepted by people of Barotseland since 1969 when the BA64 was unilaterally terminated by Zambia. This brings us back to the 2012 BNC resolutions which affirmed the reverting of Barotseland to sovereignty.

To the people of Barotseland, the dialogue should not be a stumbling block to our walk to freedom. The dialogue may provide an opportunity for the 2012 BNC resolutions to be tabled to generate a wide consensus on the key conflict and a way forward as stipulated by the resolutions.

At the same time, dialogue may bring Barotseland independence leaders incarcerated in prisons of Northern and Luapula provinces of Zambia out of prison and be part of the participants as leaders of Linyungandambo.

Further, the 2016 ACHPR admissibility report of the Ngambela of Barotseland Vs Zambia, recommended for domestic settlement of the impasse i.e to disengage or restoration.

In conclusion, restoration of the BA64 is unattainable as both nations made their positions; i.e, a letter of 1993 addressed to Ngambela Mr. G. Mukande from the office of minister without portfolio then Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda stated that BA64 could not be restored because it was stale and has been over taken by events; vis-a-vis the 2012 BNC resolutions, accepted the GRZ’s position and resolved to revert Barotseland to its original status. Alternatively, the dialogue may draw a conclusion between disengagement or referendum to bring the Barotseland impasse to conclusion.

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By Saleya Kwalombota

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.