Barotseland: Zambian Court to Rule on Self-Determination Leaders
Administrator General Afumba Mombotwa and three colleagues were arrested in December 2014 under charges of treason. They were accused of supporting the people of Barotseland’s desire for self-determination outside of Zambia's sovereignty. Tomorrow [9 March 2016] their judgement will be finally announced and the leaders risk to be sentenced to death, should the Court consider them guilty.
This article was published on The Barotseland Post.
The treason trial involving four Barotseland independence leaders, Administrator General Afumba Mombotwa and his three co-accused is coming up for Judgment tomorrow, Wednesday 9th March, 2016 at the High Court of Zambia in Kabwe.
The four were arrested on 5th December, 2014 and charged for treason on the allegation that on an unknown date but between March 1, 2012 and August 20, 2013 while in Sioma district, the four, Afumba Mombotwa, Kalima Inambao, Likando Pelekelo and Paul Masiye jointly acting together with unknown people conspired to secede "Western Province" from the rest of Zambia, a charge they have denied.
The charge is on account of the four’s alleged role in carrying out the people of Barotseland’s desire for self-determination outside of Zambia after the latter refused, permanently, to restore the pre-independence treaty, the Barotseland Agreement 1964 which gave the territory of Barotseland relative autonomy within the sovereign state of Zambia.
The 1964 agreement was unilaterally abrogated and annulled by the Zambian government in 1969, with Barotseland territory dismembered and treated like a mere province of Zambia, the ‘Western Province’, while repeated calls for its restoration have been denied since then. In March 2012, however, at a regularly held Barotse National Council (BNC), the Barotse unanimously and formally accepted the abrogation, deciding, thenceforth, to pursue self-determination of Barotseland outside of Zambia’s sovereignty. The Barotse National Council (BNC) is the supreme and most representative decision making organ in Barotse governance systems whose decisions stand binding on all other Barotse institutions including the Litungaship (monarch).
The current treason trial that started in August of 2015, some eight months after Afumba’s arrest, has largely been held in secrecy, with media black-out while attendance to court proceedings was restricted to only 20 pre-approved attendants.
Circumstances of the trial have been highly unprecedented, in its secretive handling, for such a trial that is first of its kind in the legal process of Zambia. Even judgment day was kept secret, until independently acquired by this publication a short while ago.
Although at short notice, it is highly expected that the Barotse will travel from far and wide to offer solidarity to their leaders who have been in deplorable incarceration since December of 2014, described to be worse than conditions for pigs by those who have visited, including one prince of Barotseland, Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika.
It now remains to be seen whether or not the Barotse will have justice in the Zambian court system that neither recognizes the Barotseland Agreement 1964 nor indeed the very history that founded Zambia as a unitary state.
The four will face a death penalty, should they be found guilty of the crime they are accused to have committed.