IT IS GENOCIDE: Zambian Parliament banning the name ‘Barotseland’ in all its debates

19 October 2019
[L-R] Zambian Parliament Deputy Speaker Cathiren Namugala, Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini and Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu - CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE


The First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Namugala, may have just confirmed that the Zambian state is intent on destroying, in whole or in part, the entire nation of Barotseland, which amounts to the popular understanding of what constitutes genocide as prescribed by the United Nations (UN) Genocide Convention!

Article II of the Genocide Convention contains a narrow definition of the crime of genocide, which includes two main elements: A mental element and a physical element!

According to the United Nations convention, the physical element may mean any of the following five acts: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

While the Zambian state may argue that none of the physical elements listed above has ever been done in Zambia in specific relation to the Barotse people, definitely, the Zambian State can no longer deny that it has committed the mental element of genocide which according to the United Nations classification includes the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group!”

This mental aspect of genocide is what the Zambian state has been engaged in – a systematic intent to destroy, in whole or in part, Barotseland which qualifies both as a nation and ethnic grouping.

Zambia has systematically made specific constitutional changes targeted at destroying Barotseland ever since the 1965 constitutional amendments to the very latest 2019 Constitutional Amendment Bill in its successive attempts to destroying Barotseland in whole or in part.

The Zambian state is deliberately inflicting on Barotseland conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, causing serious actual bodily harm and death in some cases or mental harm to the people of Barotseland!

On Thursday afternoon, 17th October 2019, First Deputy Speaker of the Zambian National Assembly, Catherine Namugala, ruled that the word ‘Barotseland’, which is the name of the homeland of the Barotse, should never be used in all Parliamentary debates.

The question to raise is what will the Zambian State do next? Will it now criminalize the word in its penal code?

While it might be right to say that the Provincial and Districts Boundaries Act Chapter 286 of the Laws of Zambia has no place and does not recognize any place called Barotseland, the question is what is unparliamentary about the name of a place, entity and or a person?

Are the Barotse or maLozi or BaLozi also unparliamentary? If, however, the Barotse exist, how is it possible that they can exist without their homeland, Barotseland, or is the State now confirming that they have completely destroyed their homeland, with purposeful intent?

Could this be the real reason why the Zambian State is desperately trying to now declare the entire Barotse landscape a ‘World Heritage Site’ so that any remnants of the Barotse people could now be completely removed and transferred to squalor townships and unplanned settlements of Misisi and Kuku compounds of Lusaka or to God knows where else?

Is the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) also going to be banned and possibly dissolved? Will the Barotse be a crime in Zambia? Could this be the wake-up call that the Barotse people have been waiting for, particularly the BRE, to understand, once and for all, that the Zambian State has no plans, now or ever, to co-exist with Barotseland?

When will Barotse people realize they are not wanted in Zambia? Is Namugala’s latest ruling signal enough to the BRE, the Litunga and his council? The Litunga and the BRE know what to do, but do they have the audacity to do it?

On Tuesday 8th October 2019, Chipangali Member of Parliament and Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Vincent Mwale, had raised a point of order to stop Sikongo constituency lawmaker Mundia Ndalamei from referring to Western Province as ‘Barotseland’ and argued that the word was unparliamentary.

Deputy Speaker Namugala had reserved ruling to allow her time to research on past rulings on the matter.

And making her ruling on Thursday afternoon, the First Deputy Speaker said Hon Mundia Ndalamei was not in order to refer to Western Province as Barotseland and further explained that Barotseland was a former British protectorate which no longer exists and hence should never be used in parliament as there was no place called Barotseland in Zambia.

She pointed out that the Provincial and Districts Boundaries Act Chapter 286 of the Laws of Zambia has no place and does not recognize any place called Barotseland.

She further guided that Presiding Officers have in the past rendered the same ruling in the house and Members of Parliament must desist from using the name.

The development is believed to have angered some Indunas in Limulunga though the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) has not yet issued any official reaction on the matter.

In the run-up to the 2011 general elections which the Patriotic Front (PF) party won, the PF leader at the time, late Michael Sata, had said at a rally in Mongu that only a dictator, crook and dishonest person could dispute the existence of Barotseland, and further promised to restore the 1964 Barotseland Agreement which brought Barotseland into Zambia.

Once in power, Sata rejected a report from the 2012 Roger Chongwe Commission of Inquiry Report which had recommended that the name of Western Province be replaced with Barotseland and that necessary legislation be amended to grant semi-autonomy to the territory of Barotseland.

Sata’s government, however, went on to arrest over 80 Barotseland activists among them former Barotseland Prime Minister (Ngambela) Clement Sinyinda, but all of them were later released as the state claimed it had no evidence against them.

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