Dr. 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


  1. The Barotseland Agreement 1964 does not provide for secession. It provides for resorting to Zambian courts in the event of dissatisfaction with the conduct of either party in the exercise of government power. Unfortunately, neither party has seen it fit to go to court in Zambia on the Barotseland Agreement. All in all, I agree with Fred M’membe here although I doubt it that he’s doing it out of good faith. It’s all because of politics, stupid.

  2. Not knowing what really the Barose are advocating for. I thought the decentralization program the government has embarked on is the right approach to answering the main grievance of Barose, that is of lagging behind in development. Someone may be politicizing the agreement to destabilize the country. If cessation is not the main issue according to this write-up, then what?

    • I do remember reading a letter from the Barotse Royal Establishment to the Zambian government on the BA 1964 issue which was made public by one of the groups agitating for its restoration. That letter stated clearly that secession of Barotseland from Zambia was not on the agenda. The BA1964 provides for local control of matters related to local government, taxation, land and natural resources. That’s what the issue has been about since Kaunda’s time in government which various Zambian governments hv refused to accept since then. This is what has led some to agitate for independence for Barotseland. People of my generation will recall the late 1970s when every prime minister of Zambia in the Kaunda government was a Lozi. This gave rise to a lot of hushed complaints and speculation. It’s clear now that Kaunda was placating the Lozi people due to the BA1964 but most of the country did not know then. For the record, Zambia’s Lozi prime ministers under Kaunda’s one-party rule were Nalumino Mundia, Daniel Lisulo and Malimba Masheke. The first two are both dead while Malimba Masheke is on his last legs.


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