Fred M’membe

It’s not right to treat activists of the Barotse Agreement of 1964 as criminals or lunatics- Fred M’membe


It’s not right to treat activists of the Barotse Agreement of 1964 as criminals or lunatics.

The Barotse Agreement exists. It is there. It is not a seditious or illegal document created by the Barotse Agreement activists. It is a valid document. That is why even Mr Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND in opposition fully agreed that the Barotseland Agreement issue required consultation and dialogue between stakeholders.

Advocating for the honouring of an agreement that exists and is legal can never be a crime and should not be criminalised.

To demand that the Zambian government honours it’s part of this Agreement is not wrong or a crime.

There were parties to this Agreement. And if a party to this Agreement feels shortchanged, what should it do? And what have the parties to this Agreement done about this Agreement over the last 59 years of its existence?

Certainly, like any type of marriage, the harmonius continuation of the union or unity brought by the Barotse Agreement is threatened if the parties don’t adhere to its terms.

If we truly want a harmonious One Zambia One Nation, we have no alternative but to seek consensus, accommodation, and understanding over the Barotse Agreement. That is why threats and intimidation are not the right way forward.

It will be wise to dialogue and hear the grievances of those advocating for the Agreement. A One Zambia, One Nation is what we all want, but we should not treat the activists of the Agreement like criminals or lunatics. Let’s engage each other with respect and dignity as one people.

Over the years, I have read and re-read, analysed, and re-analysed the eight paged Barotse Agreement, and I have discussed it with many people.

And today, with much more knowledge and wisdom that comes with living a little longer and experiencing more events, I can say with absolute sincerity that I find nothing difficult for the Zambian government to honour in the Barotse Agreement. I actually find the Barotse Agreement inadequate, too little if we really want to sufficiently and effectively increase the meaningful participation of our people in the governance of their communities and their country.

And I urge you all to read the Barotse Agreement for yourselves and come to your own conclusions. Don’t allow yourselves to be misled by other people’s ignorant assumptions and misinformation about the Agreement. Read it for yourself!

In my view, the Barotse Agreement is not even advocating for sufficient and effective sharing of power among all the authentic leaders – traditional, religious, political, and otherwise – of our people.

We can, and we must, give more than the Barotse Agreement to all our people, to all the regions of our country if development is to be achieved equitably and without delay.

A small group of greedy politicians in Lusaka cannot and has failed to provide the collective leadership required to give our people a better and happier life across the country.

I don’t at all believe the bonds of marriage, union that binds us together as One Zambia One Nation has broken down irretrievably to justify a break up or cessation. No!

But with sensible leadership, the current storms, differences that threaten our union, and unity can be reconciled and ended. And we must do everything possible to resolve these differences and misunderstandings that threaten our national unity.

Creating small Bantustans will take us nowhere at a time when we are seeking more and more integrations in the Pan African spirit.

But, again, only a more fair, just, and humane marriage can subsist for long.

This is what I truly believe in, and I don’t claim to have the monopoly of wisdom.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

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