News Editor, Barotseland Post
The Committee to Protect Journalists has published in its final report on media freedom violations around the world, in which they condemned the Michael Chilufya Sata led Zambian government as thus;
Promises of a freer media environment by the Patriotic Front, which won election in 2011 after a campaign that pledged greater broadcast media freedom and a law promoting access to information, had yet to be fulfilled by late 2013. Journalists operated cautiously lest they fell afoul of thin-skinned authorities, and staff members at state-owned publications risked early retirement or redeployment into bureaucratic jobs for not toeing the party line. At least five journalists faced criminal charges in 2013; all of them had reported critically on the government. The newly established Independent Broadcasting Authority awarded private broadcast licenses, but its independence was questioned when President Michael Sata revoked certain licenses. Of the country’s three major newspapers, two were state-controlled and the Post, once highly regarded for its independence, supported the ruling party in 2013, leaving few outlets where journalists could report freely. The government targeted at least three critical websites over the year, forcing one of them to repeatedly move servers--a virtual game of cat-and-mouse.
Zambian authorities cracked down on critical publications in 2013.
In an effort to stifle criticism, the government blocked news websites that documented government corruption, and journalists faced a series of charges.
The government blocks access to Zambian Watchdog, a news website that has published critical stories on the ruling Patriotic Front party. Weeks later, the authorities search the homes of two journalists, Thomas Zyambo and Clayson Hamasaka, and briefly detain them, accusing them of being linked to the website. Both journalists are released, but Zyambo is charged with sedition and Hamasaka with possession of obscene material.
A game of cat-and-mouse follows as the Zambian Watchdog moves to another server, but in mid-July authorities block that, too. A third journalist, Wilson Pondamali, is detained, accused of being linked to the site, and is later released. The site moves again, making use of proxies. Late in the year it was still accessible.
The Zambian Watchdog remained blocked inside Zambia in late 2013.
Authorities block access to Zambia Reports, an online publication that has been critical of the government. The staff sends a letter to the government, asking why the site has been blocked, but receives no reply. In August 2013, access to the site is restored.
The government briefly blocks domestic access to the online publication Barotse Post, and the online radio station Radio Barotse in western Zambia, both of which advocate a separate Barotse state. Barotseland separatists argue that at the time of Zambian independence in 1964, they, too, were promised independence, but that successive governments have reneged on this pledge.
The entire report can be found here: https://www.cpj.org/2014/02/attacks-on-the-press-in-2013-zambia.php#more
The Zambian State has released all the 54 Barotseland nationals who were facing the charge of treason via a nolle prosequi following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Magistrate Aridah Chulu however warned that the state may re arrest them should there be fresh evidence.
Hon Sinyinda was arrested for presiding over the 2012 March 26 and 27 Barotse National Council that overwhelmingly resolved to accept Zambia’s abrogation of the 1964 Barotseland Agreement that brought the two countries of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia together. The Zambian government was in attendance including the Zambian government media that covered all the proceedings.
It is not clear if the Zambian government has lost all the footage for March 2012 BNC meeting or indeed the audio, video/ list of the Mombotwa led transitional government ushered on 14th and 15th August, 2013, for them to claim they have no evidence! Furthermore, 27 Linyungandambo detainees signed a petition declaring that they were not Zambians but citizens of the new declared state of Barotseland, an admission of guilt in itself, if indeed their charge was treason by declaring Barotseland, a new state separate from Zambia!
This, however, appears to be simply an admittance of the existence of Barotseland’s statehood.
When Magistrate Chulu announced that Hon Sinyinda has been discharged via a nolle the whole court room cheered and clapped as others ululated in celebration while Magistrate Chulu just looked on. Hon Sinyinda quickly moved out of the dock and hugged his wife before greeting a number of Lozis within the court among them ADD President Charles Milupi.
And one of the people released, Kalaluka Muleta who is former Senior Investigations Officer for Zambia's Drug Enforcement Commission, DEC, in ‘Western Province’ described their release as a victory to Barotseland and charged that their imprisonment was purely political.
Kalaluka openly told the media that they are not reversing their pursuit to free Barotseland adding that they were not afraid of anyone. ‘We want our country Barotseland and we are not reversing,’ Kalaluka said.
Later on Hon Sinyinda addressed the whole group and said the prayers of the people of Barotseland have been answered.
He said he was going to issue a comprehensive statement at a later time.
And Assistant Secretary for Defense in the Afumba Mombotwa led transitional government, Masiye Masiyaleti, who is among the released, has appealed to Barotse nationals to rally behind Linyungandambo and the Afumba Mombotwa led transitional government adding that they were going to continue from where the Zambian ‘invaders’ blocked them.
‘We have won the war and we are now going to continue from where the Zambian invaders blocked us,’ a jovial Masiyaleti said.
He said the people of Barotseland should remain calm and vigilant as the Zambian invaders are eradicated from Barotseland.
And some of the Barotse nationals released revealed that the notorious Zambian police officer named Leon Mweemba Ngulube who is Zambia's Deputy Divisional Criminal Investigations Officer for the Western region was behind the torture that most of them suffered while in Mongu.
“I was beaten fifty times under my foot with a short button by Ngulube and when we were transferred to Lusaka, the same Ngulube who was beating us pleaded with us to drop our argument that we are not Zambians and be tried under the Zambian courts as opposed to referring the case to the Commonwealth," one of the released Barotses revealed.
The renowned Aljazeera Media was among the media organisations that provided live coverage outside the court.
Ngulube was in charge of the security for the treason accused but today he appeared disgruntled as the empty trucks drove out of the court premises with the heavily armed Paramilitary officers having no clients to guard.
In a clear act of desperation and sheer cowardice, the Zambian government has now decided to block Local Access to both Barotsepost.com and RadioBarotseland.com
We, therefore, wish to advise that online access to both www.barotsepost.com as well as www.radiobarotseland.com has been blocked from within the geographical boundaries of both Zambia and Barotseland.
Therefore, anyone from within these two geographical regions trying to access our two web sites should use PROXY Avoidance web sites or software to be able to access the two web sites.
However, our news updates can still be accessed via the following Facebook and twitter accounts:
Face Book Pages: (You don’t have to ‘Like’ any of these pages to read, but if you do ‘Like’ any of the pages our news will be automatically be delivered to your Facebook wall.)
The Government of Zambia has become notoriously repressive on dissenting and opposing views, and have been blocking national access to web sites critical of their deteriorating poor governance record and those of the opposition political parties. Currently the Zambian Watchdog and Zambia Reports web sites critical of their bad governance have been blocked from within Zambia, while arresting any journalist suspected to be writing for these web sites.
Meanwhile, Zambia police forces picked up three Barotse nationals in Livingston on Sunday for being in possession of news articles they allegedly downloaded from www.barotsepost.com . The three were immediately taken into police custody and upon interrogation one was set free while two were transported to Mongu Central police over seditious or possibly treasonous charges.
The two transferred to Mongu are a Mr. Akakandelwa Erick and a Pastor Matongo, while Mr. Muyunda was released.
Please, spread the above information to your friends, relatives, co- leagues, neighbors and anyone who cares to know.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers.
The ruthless illegal shutting down of online publications under the PF administration points to excessive intolerance of criticism and fear of the unknown by the tribal regime of President Sata.
The savage and brutal closure of the Zambian online publication like the Zambian watch dog, the Zambia reports and the Barotse post is clearly un-front and assault on democracy as the free press and media freedoms are essential ingredients in the growth of democracy and human development.
We remain pessimistic on the commitment of this regime on the actual enactment of the access to information bill. Our view is that the regime will continue to play hide and seek. At best we think the regime is merely playing to the gallery and buying time.
No one believes that any responsible government committed to a free press and access to information can at short notice spend millions of Zambian Kwacha to procure high tech equipment to block and kill the free flow of information amongst the citizenry.
Most of the online publicans have operated freely in the past under the previous MMD administrations.
We think China has not been very helpful in helping cultivate a sense of responsible leadership amongst their African trading partners. The continued proliferation and selling and supplying of various eavesdropping gadgets and apparatuses that goes to stifle and block various forms of freedom remains a source of grave concern. Africa should be assisted to grow to their fullest potential in various social and political freedoms without outside interference. We regret to say that China rather than being a good friend and a solution for Africa on one hand has become part of the problem on the other hand by supplying despotic regimes with high technical gadgets and various accessories with which regimes are using to mercilessly interfere in the enjoyment of the various forms of freedom.
We implore and dare the Zambian government to officially unblock the online publications as a gesture of goodwill and prerequisite to commitment of freedom of information and also to demonstrate genuine commitment to media freedom.
The PF is a beneficiary of a free press and therefore must be seen to respect and support institutions that help disseminate information to the public.
We welcome the announcement by government to start giving state funding to private media houses. This is a welcome development and initiative which should be supported by everyone committed to the growth of the private media.
Mr. Mutungulu Wanga, Deputy Chairman of BNFA Strategy, cannot find an excuse to open unhealed wounds of people who were incarcerated by Zambia in 2013. Those gallant and brave men who stood firm to defend Barotseland in the courts of the enemy deserve respect and not to be castigated in anyway by a genuine Mulozi.
It is an open secret that the whole world stood up to condemn Zambia for arresting those people. Refer to the Secretary of State for America Hon. John Kerry, in the 2013 Human Rights Report on Zambia. Even reasonable Mps in Zambia condemned the arrests of the Barotse people. Surely, if we were to bring one who was arresting them for a live interview on TV to answer questions from the public as to why they arrested Mr. Clement W. Sinyinda, there would be nothing to get from him. The truth will always remain that the state, as it is called, failed completely to prosecute those courageous, patriotic, noble, bold and genuine Barotzis, because they did nothing wrong. Only Mr. Wanga seems to condemn them, and think they are nothing. Let us give credit where it is due!
As to his outburst concerning Barotseland Government Mr. Wanga cannot try to be a champion in the field where he is not an expert! Even if we were to summon scholars of international politics for debate, Mr. Wanga would not make a point with his opinions engulfed with hatred. What is a prerequisite to trigger revolution? What qualification is needed to stop a revolution? We leave these questions open for Mr. Wanga to answer.
Even if the BNFA Deputy Chairman General were to put the BTA today, that BTA would not be put simultaneously with the Barotseland Police or Army. Let Mr. Wanga tell us what he is going to do with Zambia police after the BTA has been put? When will the modern time Mr. Wanga was referring to going to start? Did the case of Kosovo’s declaration of independence take place in modern or ancient time? Tell the people of Barotseland what the International Court of Justice said concerning the declaration of Kosovo?
What is true is that, had it not been for the activities of BFM and Linyungandambo and the people he is insulting, Mr. Wanga would not be writing letters petitioning for Human Rights abuse (riding on the tide fortune).
Rationally, nobody can attack or fight what does not exist! We love Mr. Wanga because he is a Mulozi. However, what he has to understand (and of course he is not forced) is that, whatever one does, says, or commitment he/she undertakes, there are risks such as:
i) Emotional risk – where you feel betrayed by someone you trusted much.
ii) Material risk – where you risk losing property.
iii) Intellectual risk – where you risk being told that you are wrong.
iv) Physical risk – where you can lose life or be injured.
Fortunately, people belonging to Linyungandambo know this fact! That is why they stand firm in all situations. If Mr. Wanga wants to avoid these risks in his approach and style, he should shut himself up in a closed room; but that would be a risk as well. Malozi kaufela mina, I can confirm to you that Linyungandambo is on the right truck!!
For curiosity’s sake, can Mr. Wanga release a ten steps plan on how to restore the Barotseland Agreement that he submitted to Dr. Roger Chongwe Commission of Inquiry; audio and visual records are there; bo Wanga is in the gear for Agreement restoration and not for total emancipation of the Barotseland territory. If Mr. Wanga does not know this, he must know it from today, because his actions can tell.
As for the police officers and magistrates who failed law at NIPA; what laws do they apply? Are they applying laws which are inconsistent with Barotseland Agreement or not? People cannot be concerned with them; we know they are just a menace!! Their days are limited, and they will be punished for their actions including their bosses individually.
Assuming that the legal personality derives from the legal right of the entity in question to self-determination, it seems most unlikely that the use of force to assert that right should be illegal.
It is probably the case that the use of force by a none-state entity in exercise of the right to self-determination is legally neutral that is not regulated by law at all.
In their actions against and resistance to such forcible action in pursuit of the exercise of their right to self-determination, such peoples are entitled to seek and receive support in accordance with the purpose and principle of the UN Charter. It is a pity those magistrates in Mungu Mr. Wanga refers to, do not know these facts!! So they should not think that we are fools, because we are peaceful and we do not hit harder!!
Written by Sikopo Mataa
USA-New York Branch
Although Zambia is a constitutional republic governed by a democratically elected president and a unicameral national assembly, United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has reported that Serious human rights abuses were committed by Zambia during the year 2013
Among these abuses cited under Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including Freedom of Speech and Press, internet freedoms were not respected such as the blocking of this publication, Barotse Post (cited as Barotse Reports) and two major Zambian websites, Zambia Reports and Zambia Watchdog, critical of Zambia's bad governance.
Barotsepost is not only a media platform that seeks to highlight the social political and economic aspirations of the people of Barotseland, but also gives them the platform to express themselves freely without censorship. As such the Zambian government has widely banned it considering it seditious. Many Barotse have been arrested for merely possessing news article extracts from the publication.
With Zambian media outlets forbidden to publish any view point contrary to the Zambian government stand point on the matters relating to the abrogated pre - independence Barotseland Agreement 1964 between then Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland that gave birth to the republic of Zambia, which successive government failed to honor, Barotsepost has been the only media platform that has given the Barotse people exclusive coverage, thereby Zambian government labeling this publication 'propagandist' and seditious.
The Barotseland Agreement of 1964, which guaranteed the political and economic autonomy of the territory of Barotseland within the new independent state of Zambia, which the new Kenneth Kaunda regime repudiated and abrogated within the first 18 months after asserting political power in 1964, and successive Zambian governments there after, has also been highlighted as a major Human Rights Abuse in the year 2013 just like the two years before that.
"The government (Zambia) does not recognize the 1964 Barotseland Agreement that granted the Lozi political autonomy and was signed by the United Kingdom, Northern Rhodesia, and the Barotse Royal Establishment immediately prior to the country’s independence. Some Lozi groups continued to demand official recognition of the Barotseland Agreement or formal secession from Zambia.
"On May 3, the Magistrates Court convicted and sentenced 17 Barotseland secessionists to six months’ imprisonment for destroying copies of the draft constitution in September 2012. On August 14, a Barotseland secessionist group announced that it had formed an administrative government and unilaterally declared independence. Police arrested more than 70 of the activists and charged them with treason. On September 24, police also arrested and charged Clement Sinyinda, former ngambela (prime minister) of the Barotse Royal Establishment in connection with the secessionist group. During several appearances in district court, the Barotse activists told the court they were not Zambian citizens and could not be tried in Zambian courts. On November 2, the state withdrew charges against 31 of the activists. The 50 remaining detainees were released without charge on November 29." the report reads in part.
The report was released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on February 27 2014. The Zambia 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices can be downloaded in PDF format here: http://ww.state.gov/documents/organization/220386.pdf