Jan 27, 2015

Barotseland: Secession Case Deemed Treason and Sent to High Court

On 26 January 2015, four officials of the Barotseland provisional government appeared before Mumbwa Magistrate Court on charges of conspiring to realise the secession of Barotseland from Zambia. Their case was transferred to the Kabwe High Court, where the trial will resume.

Below is an article published by The Barotseland Post

This transpired when the quartet appeared before Mumbwa magistrate Court today 26th January 2015, facing charges of Sedition and treason felony.

They are charged on the account that on unknown date but between 1 March 2012 and 20 August 2013 while in Sioma district the four , Hon. Afumba Mombotwa, Hon. Kalima Inambao, Hon. Pelekelo Kalima and Hon. Paul Masiye jointly acting together with unknown people conspired to secede “Western Province” (Barotseland) from the rest of Zambia.

The four were detained at Mwembeshi prison and are now expected to be transferred to Kabwe.

Afumba was a member of the committee which presented resolutions at the Barotseland National Council (BNC) held on 26 and 27 March 2012 at Limulunga in Mongu, which declared independence of Barotseland from Zambia.

The resolutions were assented to by the Litunga as per policy of the Barotseland National Council, the highest policy making body in Barotseland.

The Zambian government was represented at the 2012 BNC by the Provincial Minister, Provincial PS, Western Province Police Commissioner Siandenge and the Western Provincial Army Headquarters Commander while several diplomats accredited to Zambia from USA, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Botswana and Lesotho also attended.

The BNC resolved to revert Barotseland to her previous status as a separate country from Zambia after the Zambian government refused to restore the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, a treaty which joined the former British protectorates of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia to form Zambia.

Consequently, on 14 August 2013, Afumba took oath of office as head of the provisional government to oversee the transitional period of Zambia's disengagement from Barotseland and restoration of institutions of governance, as Administrator General, before popular elections could be organized and held to elect a civil prime minister.

Barotseland authorities have since submitted the matter before the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights, an organ of the African Union based in Banjul, Gambia where the matter is being considered but Zambia failed to submit counter evidence despite being given three months to counter the 258 page evidence that Barotseland submitted.

Zambia has also refused to sign the Permanent Court of Arbitration Submission Agreement to settle the matter amicably before the Permanent Court of Arbitration based at The Hague.

Another team of international Lawyers are in the process of handing documents for signing to the Zambian President Edgar Lungu for the matter to be settled at the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The team was in Zambia to submit documents to the President two weeks ago but had to wait for the new President to be elected.

Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters stood up and left the court room in frustration, went outside to sing Barotseland songs of solidarity, as the magistrate announced the committal of the case to Kabwe High court. The court, which was fully parked with the supporters and sympathizers of the Barotse activists, seemed to have been besieged.

The actual date of beginning of trial at the Kabwe High court, in Kabwe Zambia, is not yet known.

This latest action taken by the Patriotic Front government under new President Edgar Lungu has not been received well by most Lozis who expressed fear and safety of their detained leaders. This means that the accused are now most likely going to be transferred to Kabwe central Zambia, far from their families, while they remain in detention awaiting start of trial. There has been fears raised of food poisoning or some other type of poisoning or harm planned to be tactfully applied to the detained Barotseland leaders as a way of eliminating them for good.

Treason felony attracts a death penalty upon conviction under Zambian laws, and this will be the first ever trial of persons accused of treason over Barotseland’s statehood, as others were merely detained without trial in the past.

Photo courtesy of WorldFish@Flickr