Assessment for Lozi in Zambia
|Publisher||Minorities at Risk Project|
|Publication Date||31 December 2003|
|Cite as||Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Lozi in Zambia, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3aea17.html [accessed 19 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Lozi are at high risk for future rebellion. They have lost autonomy, an important risk factor for rebellion. In addition, they have had persistent past protest (although not recently) and suffer from repression. These three factors indicate grievances are not being redressed, making rebellion more likely. The group also has the organizational capacity for rebellion. They are territorially concentrated in the Western Province and have a high level of group identity. Talk of seccession and political independence exist among the group. However, this sentiment is only shared by a smaller number of Lozis, where many others do not see this stance as an advantageous one. However, the internal fighting and lack of commitment to Lozi organizations will hinder any efforts. Finally, several factors known to inhibit rebellion are not present in this case. The regime is not fully democratic nor is it interested in reform. There has not been any transnational pressure for reform either. The only relevant transnational pressure is likely to be the armed conflict in surrounding countries that could spillover into Zambia. Of note, kindred Barotse in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia rebelled in 1998, and there has been talk between the two since then. A joint insurrection is possible. Members of the Barotse Patriotic Front in Zambia even crossed the border to help fight in Namibia in 1999.
A final factor affecting the stability of the group is a natural consequence, In 2002 there was a flooding of the Barotse plain, which destroyed their crops, killed seven and destroyed about 25 villages. The inability of the Lozi people to obtain enough food may be cause for future instability within the region.
The Lozi, also known as Barotse, are concentrated in the Western Province of Zambia (GROUPCON = 3) in what is known as Barotseland. They live apart from other groups (REGIONAL = 1) and have not dispersed to other parts of the state (MIGRANT = 1). The Lozi are one of four major historical kingships in Zambia. They have their own language, Lozi, (LANG = 1) but they do not have different social customs than the dominant group (CUSTOM = 0).
The Lozi kingdom was a well-established empire by the late 18th century (TRADITN = 1). In the early 19th century, the kingdom was divided by a civil war that lasted until 1885. A new king was installed in that year, and shortly thereafter, he signed a mineral concession and protectorate treaty with the British South Africa Company. The Lozi enjoyed autonomy under British rule (AUTON = 1), but at the cost of losing their resources and much of the power of the king. In 1961, the Lozi sent representatives to Britain to petition for the independence of Barotseland. The petition was denied. On the eve of Zambian independence, the Lozi signed an agreement which made Barotseland part of Zambia. However, all of the traditional privileges of the kingdom were to be maintained. Legislation in 1969 rescinded this agreement and Barotseland became nothing more than another province (AUTONEND = 1969).
The Lozi did not suffer demographic stress, but with a severe flood of the Barotse plain in 2002 there was evidence of some demographic stress (DMSICK02-03= 1 ; DMFOOD02-03= 2). They do not suffer cultural, economic or obvious political discrimination (ECDIS03 = 0; POLDIS03 = 0); however, the Bemba ethnic group is preferred in tribal politics and appointments. (President Chiluba is a Bemba.) The Lozi want to regain their lost autonomy in order to control resources in Barotseland, especially since the recent discovery of diamonds in the area. A few Lozi even support secession.
Although the Lozi are concentrated territorially (GROUPCON = 3) and share a strong group identity (COHESX9 = 5), they are not in a strong position to advocate for their interests. There has been intragroup conflict in the past (INTRACON2 = 1) and there is not strong support for Lozi organizations (ORG03SUP=1). In May 2000, there was a coup attempt against the Lozi chief by those who claimed other clans should be given the opportunity to rule. More importantly, although several Lozi political organizations exist (GOJPA03 = 2), there is not broad support for any of them. In local government elections, Agenda for Zambia (a pro-secession Lozi group) managed less than 20 seats. Of note, it does not fully control a single council in the province. The Agenda for Zambia, with support from the Barotse Patriotic Front and the Barotse Cultural Association, also failed to win any seats in the Western Province in the 1999 national elections. Many Lozi do not support secession because of a feeling of nationalism and the impression that Lozi leaders who support it are simply out for their own good.
The Lozi were relatively quiet until the late 1980s when they began agitating for autonomy for their region (PROT88-92 = 1). Kenneth Kaunda, president since independence, had been able to placate the Lozi by including their traditional ruler in the Central Committee of his United National Independence Party (UNIP) party. However, when other political movements began agitating for a multi-party system, the Lozi took this opportunity to once again bring up their wish for autonomy. In the first multi-party elections in 1991, the Lozi voted overwhelmingly for the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), the main opposition party, in the hopes that it would grant them autonomy. MMD won, and Chiluba was elected president. However, MMD has been just as unresponsive to Lozi claims as UNIP was.
Throughout the 1990s, the Lozi became more vocal in agitating for autonomy (PROT93-98 = 2). Little violence has taken place (REB94 = 3, REB95 = 1, REB96-03 = 0), though the Lozi leaders have threatened it on several occasions. They have apparently been arming themselves with heavy weapons. In 1994, Lozi leaders ordered their lawyers to seek legal arbitration for settlement of the issue, possibly through the International Court of Justice. There was no protest in 1999 through 2003 (PROT99-03 = 0). Nor was there any conflict with other groups in those years (INTERCON99-03 = 0).
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