Oct 11, 2016

Barotseland: Prisoner of Conscience Falls Ill in Detention


Photo courtesy of jordancole@flickr.com

Inambao Kalima, leading figure of the Barotseland movement for self-determination, who is currently imprisoned for ten years for allegedly “usurping executive powers” following his prominent involvement in a 2012 protest march, has fallen ill in Zambian detention with what has been diagnosed as anemia and is suspected to have arisen from food poisoning. It is not the first time that a Barotse prisoner of conscience faces a case of food poisoning in detention.

Below is an article published by The Barotseland Post:

A Mwembeshi prison informant has revealed that Inambao Kalima, one of the two Barotseland leaders serving a ten year sentence alongside Barotseland Administrator General Afumba Mombotwa over Barotseland self-determination, was last week smitten by an undisclosed sudden illness suspected to have emanated from food poisoning.

Mr Kalima is reported to have initially presented with chest pains. Upon examination by the prison doctor, his case was thought to be pneumonia. After medication, however, Kalima started to purge black stool, and then his case was changed to be anemia.

“When the authorities at Mwembeshi and the doctor failed to explain this sudden illness, they attempted to persuade Kalima’s family to have him taken to Zambia’s University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka. But I think the family suspected foul play and objected and prevailed on the authorities to have a private family doctor look at him instead, to which after much deliberations, the prison authorities agreed”.

The source further said that although the prison authorities pretended not to know the cause of this sudden mysterious illness, their sheer jittery over the matter suggested otherwise, and cases of food poisoning were not an uncommon fate among Barotse political prisoners in Zambian jails.

“Please, tell the people of Barotseland that their leaders are not well here. In fact, where are the BRE Indunas, where is Lubosi, and where is Sinyinda? Where is Linyungandambo? Where is BNFA and all the others when Afumba and his two colleagues are languishing in jails over a matter that is of common good? Your leaders may not last long here! The system is killing them!” lamented the prison insider.

Meanwhile, a family member who refused to give further details said that Hon. Kalima was currently not in good health as he looks pale and has lost a lot of weight.

“All I can say from the family point of view is that we need the people of Barotseland to pray for him and all the other leaders in prison for their general safety and wellbeing.”

Kalima Inambao, Afumba Mombotwa and Likando Pelekelo were arrested on the 5th of December, 2014 and tried for treason in the Zambian High Court for allegedly conspiring to secede Zambia’s Western province from the rest of the country. However, they were later convicted on a different account and lesser charge of usurping powers of the executive for their role in implementing the people of Barotseland’s March 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC) resolutions that called for the restoration of Barotseland self-determination outside of the Republic of Zambia. The trio admitted to being leaders of the 2013 constituted Barotseland Government and, consequently, was on 19 March 2015 sentenced to 10 years Zambian imprisonment with hard labor.

The 2012 BNC independence resolution was arrived at after repeated appeals from Barotseland to have the Zambian Government honor and restore the defunct pre-independence Barotseland Agreement 1964 that sought to unify the two separate British protectorates of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia into shared sovereignty with the latter enjoying political autonomy within the boundaries of the new Zambian state. The Zambian Government progressively and unilaterally abrogated the 1964 agreement from 1965 – 1969 and to the Barotse that meant Barotseland could no longer exist as a constituent of Zambia now that the agreement that facilitated the coexistence had been severed.