Legal Editor, Barotseland Post
The case involving Hon. Afumba Mombotwa and his three co-accused is coming up for continuation of trial at the Kabwe high court in the Republic of Zambia on Tuesday, the 20th of October, 2015. The four are accused of planning the secession of western province from Zambia on unknown dates but between March 2012 and August 2013. The accused have been in Zambian prison for more than ten months, and since the commencement of the trial in August 2015, the state has kept on requesting for adjournments, in what Barotse loyalists consider a gimmick intended to prolong the punishment of the accused.
The case is, in reality, about Barotseland independence but unfortunately, the Zambian government has slapped the charge of treason for attempting the secession of WESTERN PROVINCE from Zambia, which the Barotse people consider un-realistic. The charge, upon conviction, is punishable only by death under Zambian laws.
According to the people of Barotseland the accused are independence advocates, and leaders of Barotseland not the stated ‘western province’ of Zambia. The Barotse argue that there is no such a province as "western province" in Barotseland. According to them, even the documents that existed at independence of Zambia testify to this fact.
Further, the Barotse argue that ‘Western province’ of Zambia still exists as the present day ‘Copperbelt.’
Arguably, Zambia could never have signed a treaty in 1964 with a mere province but a ‘protectorate’ territory that she was equal in status with. Therefore, the Barotseland issue, to the Barotse, is about the independence of Barotseland which was a territory separate from northern Rhodesia, which signed a treaty, the Barotseland Agreement 1964, that united the two into ‘one Zambia, one nation.’ However, Zambia grossly and unilaterally abrogated this pre-independence agreement in 1969, according to available historical facts, which validate the Barotse assertion.
As such the prosecution will have to prove beyond doubt some of the following:
I) That the respondent pushed for the secession of Western Province of Zambia.
II) That the territory ‘western province’ in contention belongs to Zambia and not Barotseland.
III) Whether the territory Barotseland is part of Zambia or not bearing in mind the 1969 abrogation and nullification of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 which put the Barotseland Protectorate under the jurisdiction of the new Zambian state, and also bearing in mind that the same abrogation was officially accepted by Barotseland in 2012, thereby invalidating any further claim of jurisdiction over Barotseland by Zambia.
IV) The status of the territory that Zambia signed agreement with in 1964 (BA’64); was it a protectorate territory or a mere province of northern Rhodesia and what is its current legal status now that the Barotseland agreement is no longer in force?
V) Where was the purported crime committed; was it in the territory that claimed independence in 2012 known as Barotseland or Copperbelt, the original ‘western province’ of Zambia.
VI) If the purported crime was committed in the restored ‘Barotseland’, the prosecution will have to prove to the court how ‘secession’ applies in this case, considering that Barotseland was never annexed to Zambia at the independence of Northern Rhodesia, and in the absence of any legally binding document to prove the contrary is true.
The aforementioned questions and many more are expected from the defense as the case proceeds.
Meanwhile, the Barotseland national information officer Mr. Lubinda Kunangela has asked the Barotse people to turn up at the court grounds to witness the sovereignty of Barotseland being defended by their selfless Barotseland leaders through their legal representatives.
“The people of Barotseland should not get tired of giving their support, both in material and spiritual terms. Therefore, all are called upon to turn up on 20th October in large numbers to give solidarity and moral support” said Mr. Lubinda.
It is also understood that some international friends and partners of Barotseland are expected to be present to record the procession for their various media.