Mar 17, 2015

Barotseland: Appeal Case Adjourned for Jailed National Youth Activists

On 11 March 2015, the Mongu High Court of Zambia deferred the appeal case for the three Barotseland National Youth League executive leaders to 16 March 2015, as their submission to the court had not been processed yet. People took to the streets in order to peacefully support the young men’s struggle for Barotseland’s independence. In 2014, the activists had been unfairly sentenced to three years of jail with hard labor, for the “publication of false news with the intent to cause fear or alarm the public contrary to the law of Zambia”. 

Below is an articles published by The Barotseland Post:

The appeal case for the Barotseland National Youth league executive leaders; Muziba, Nayoto and Sikwibele who are jailed for three years with hard labor, for “publication of false news with intent to cause fear or alarm to the public contrary to the laws of Zambia” which took place on the 11th March 2015 in Mongu High Court of Zambia, has been adjourned to Monday 16th March, 2015.

In adjourning the matter, the court said that the trio’s submission to the court was not yet in their files, hence the adjournment to Monday 16th March, 2015.

Scores of people gathered at the High court to have a glimpse of the three courageous young men of Barotseland struggle for independence. The courtroom and outside premises were fully parked with people of all age groups and different walks of life, some of who sang songs of solidarity and the Barotseland national anthem in patriotism.

Meanwhile, business came to a standstill as the people lined up the road to Mongu prison to wave at the gallant youth of Barotseland who waived back with a raised victory hand symbol.

The three were arrested last year [2014] and slapped with a three year jail sentences with hard labour each for a letter they wrote to one Hon. Clement Sinyinda, leader of a competing liberation movement BNFA, which the occupying Zambia police force claimed they randomly picked as ‘trash’, but upon reading, they deemed and reported it as 'false news' written and published with intent to cause fear and alarm to the nation contrary to the laws of Zambia. Suspicions are that they were arrested on Hon. Sinyinda’s orders, in an apparent case of betrayal or reprisal as the letter was accusing him of collaborating with Zambia to perpetuate atrocities in Barotseland.

Currently in Zambia, this controversial colonial charge has been ruled unconstitutional by the high court, although the state has appealed the high court ruling to the Supreme Court, the highest court of appeal in Zambia.

Petitions and prayer continue to be made on behalf of the three young men and four other Barotseland leaders currently incarcerated in Zambian prisons including the Barotseland administrator general Hon. Afumba Mombotwa who is arrested for treason felony awaiting trial at Zambia high court. If convicted they face a death penalty for attempting to ‘secede’ Zambia’s western province to form the independent state of Barotseland.

Barotseland was unanimously declared independent by the supreme governing body of Barotseland the Barotse National Council (BNC) gathering in 2012, in response to Zambia’s unilateral abrogation of the pre-independence Barotseland Agreement 1964 which guaranteed autonomy of Barotseland within the newly independent republic of Zambia. The Barotse people have argued that with the termination of the agreement the Zambian government lost the legal ground to administer the Barotseland territory as the agreement was the only basis by which the area came under Zambia’s control.

Since the 1969 abrogation of the agreement, Zambia has administered Barotseland by a measure of force, often arresting, imprisoning or killing anyone protesting or questioning Zambia's legality in Barotseland. Thousands of Zambia military and security forces now traverse the territory, ready to squash any protestation or 'rebellion'.

Photo courtesy of worldfish@flickr