THE four Barotse activists on trial for advocating for secession of Western Province from the rest of Zambia have told the Kabwe High Court that their actions were aimed at fulfilling the resolutions of the Barotse National Council (BNC) which resolved among other things the secession of Barotseland from the rest of Zambia because the Zambian government had allegedly abrogated the terms of the Barotse Agreement of 1964.
Afumba Kenny Mombotwa, Sylvester Kalima Inambao, Likando Pelekelo and Paul Masiye Masiyaleti submitted that there was nothing unlawful about their demands for an independent state of Barotseland.
They told Kabwe High Court judge-in-charge Dominic Sichinga that they had engaged other international stakeholders and had taken the matter before the International Court of Justice for arbitration, arguing that the BNC was legally convened and was attended by Government leaders and regional commanders of defence and security forces whose resolutions were sent to the President of Zambia.
Leader of the group, Mombotwa told the court that in 2010, many people were analysing the Cabinet circular No. 82 of 18th July 1964 where the then Secretary to the Cabinet was warning all those who would take positions in new independence government that the relationship of Barotseland with Britain was guided by the agreement and that the same would apply to Zambia but it so happened that Barotseland was betrayed.
He said that on 12th August 2013, Mombotwa,together with Likando, Kalima and others, committed themselves to the service of the Barotse people by making him take an oath at Kalima’s house in Livingstone.
Asked what the oath was about, he said that it was about paying allegiance to the Litunga of Barotseland in his (Mombotwa’s) capacity as Administrator General.
Asked about the Barotse flag, the bank notes, the defence code of conduct, Barotse cabinet, provisional budget and many other things that the police seized and presented before court as exhibits, Mr. Mombotwa said that he had no role in the designs of the flag and that the currency known as Mupu first appeared on internet.
He argued that there were many ‘‘liberation movements’’ in Barotseland and Linyungandambo was just one of them. He said the said items were available online and could have been extracted from there.
When told that there was information that he went into hiding, Mombotwa said he was in Western Province and went to pay a courtesy call on Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta after which he was arrested along with Kalima and Likando on 26th December 2014. He also denied the publication and dissemination of a video shown in court.
He denied having instructed anyone to draw the structure of the cabinet and that he did not try to secede because the matter before court was political and about human rights.
And 61-year-old Pelekelo said that before the police shooting incidents of 14th January 2011, people of Barotseland came up with a decision for self-rule.
He said the killing in Western Province was what led to the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to call for a meeting which led to the resolution for self-rule.
He said that one of the resolutions was that the Zambian government should respond to the concerns raised within 30 days and that Mombotwa was one of the signatories to the resolutions.
Inambao, 54, a businessman of Dambwa South in Livingstone, said that he participated in Mombotwa taking of oath at his house as an observer and that he was part of the 5,000 people who attended the BNC meeting at which they resolved to secede from the rest of Zambia.
Earlier, Kalima took the court by surprise when he demanded to know which case he was facing because he was charged with seditious intentions, then seditious practices and now treason but the court guided him that he was before court for treason felony.
Masiyaleti, 52, a teacher at Sioma Secondary School, asked the court to release him because there was no person who had testified about him actively taking part in the plans to secede from the rest of Zambia.
He said he was arrested from the court premises in Mumbwa in December when he went to hear the case of Mombotwa who was his uncle.
He said the arrest in Mumbwa was his second after being arrested at Chief Namakando’s home in 2013 alongside 83 other people who were released on nolle prosequi and denied the properties that were recovered from his house in Sioma. He insisted that prior to his arrest he had never met Pelekelo and Inambao.
According to the cabinet structure that was drawn Mombotwa was at the top as administrator general, while Kalima, Inambao and Pelekelo were in charge of agriculture. Masiyaleti was put in charge of defence and security and is alleged to have been found with defence identity cards.
The Kabwe High Court has set 18th December and 8th January 2016 as dates for written submissions by the defence and the State respectively.
It was alleged that whilst acting together and with other people unknown, the quartet were accused to have declared Western Province as an independent state of Barotseland and advocated for its cessation from the rest of country contrary to the laws of Zambia.
The court found the quartet with a case to answer and put them on their defence and during their four-hour long defence on oath, no defence witnesses were called.