Ironically, when the oppressive apartheid regime condemned them as criminal conspirators, saboteurs and terrorists using their self-righteous apartheid constitution, the majority of the sane world hailed Mandela and his comrades as heroic freedom fighters! Oh Yes! In their self-righteous laws, the black South Africans did not deserve equal rights! It was indicated right there in their constitution, written in black and white! Racial segregation was the law of the day, and by that law, Mandela and others deserved condemnation by their Supreme Court as enemies of the state!
But why could the apartheid regime not see how wrong and stupid their laws were, or why could they, like the rest of the world, see that all Mandela and his comrades were advocating was a chance to enjoy equal human rights like all their fellow human beings? And yet all the egoistic apartheid state could do is to flex their state muscle and punish them in a manner they thought would make them a public example to their kind! By so doing, the unrepentant self-righteous apartheid regime thought they would successfully suppress any further demands for black people’s freedom from white domination!
However, history has proven over and over that nothing could, in fact, stop an idea whose time has fully come! Instead of suppressing the black people’s calls for freedom and independence, they grew even louder and spread to the ends of the earth!
In their deluded egoism, they must have thought, “We wield both state and military power” as many Zambians will shout today, “Boma ni Boma! Fi kakeni fye fi ba Lozi!”
Could it be, though, that the Zambian state, like the apartheid South African regime, has actually got it all wrong on Barotse people’s demands for a respect of their rights to self-determination? After all, no state official, judge or court has ever denied that Zambia signed a pre-independence treaty with Barotseland concerning its position in the Republic of Zambia and that this treaty was unilaterally abrogated without implementation by the same state!
Could one eat his own cake and still expect to have it?
So, why is Zambia playing so self-righteous when in fact it is the party guilty of treacherously breaking the international precept upon which the Zambian state was framed? Must Zambia continue to oppress Barotse people merely because it wields both state power and military artillery, and are we going to assume that ‘might is right’ in this case? And could it be that what the Zambian state has branded criminality in their self-righteous draconian laws, reminiscent of colonialism, may actually be seen as a legitimate struggle for self-determination by the rest of the sane democratic world?
Understandably, Mandela and his fellow oppressed people were pushed to the limits where it became necessary for them to pick up arms and burn down bridges and other public infrastructure in pursuits of their objectives against an unflinching oppressor, but how could one possibly condemn Afumba and others with treason when they never even lifted any pebble in their pursuit of the March 2012 Barotse National Council (BNC) unanimous calls for independence made in the presence of the Zambian state and international observers?
How self-righteous must the Zambian state be to impose even more years to the punishment of the three Barotse for appealing a subordinate court ruling they believed to be incorrect! In this case, the Zambian state through its Supreme Court has decided to not only sustain the High Court conviction but also went further to increase imprisonment by five more years, seemingly and only because it considered their decision to appeal as a lack of remorsefulness by the appellants! Did they not have the same right of appeal like all other human beings under the Zambian constitution! How self-righteous of this unrepentant state, which in fact has played complainant, witness, judge, jury, and executioner in its own cause!
In self-delusion, the Zambian state think that by punishing Afumba Mombotwa, Pelekelo Kalima and Likando Pelekelo they will deter and suppress all other Barotse people who may wish to advocate for their human rights of self-determination! But like the apartheid South African regime, the Zambian state is gravely mistaken because, like Nelson Mandela and others, Afumba and many Barotse have already embraced ideals of freedom which they have sworn to live for and if need be, they are prepared to die for these ideals!
If history is anything to go by, it can easily be guaranteed that the present Zambian Supreme Court action will even re-ignite more Barotse zeal and yearning for freedom, and more Afumbas, Kalimas and Likandos, young and old will now rise up and continue the struggle for what they believe is their inalienable human right of self-determination!
After all, they can now say they have pursued and exhausted all peaceful and legal channels within Zambia, to the very highest courts, and that they have found no justice! What will now stop Barotse people from seeking their freedom through other means they will deem necessary in pursuit of their freedom? Doesn’t even the International Charters on Human and People's Rights stipulate that “Colonized people have the right to resort to ANY MEANS to free themselves from the bond of domination?” (African Charter; Article 20).
Respectfully, we think that the Zambian State has missed a golden opportunity to release Afumba and others, thereby diffusing any brewing tension in the contested territory, after which other more amicable resolutions would have been pursued considering that the Zambian state is the major culprit in the Barotseland debacle. But alas, like the South African apartheid regime, the unrepentant Zambian state has opted to pursue impunity by flexing its state muscle through their self-righteous constitution!
In our view, and many will agree, matters concerning the pre-independence Barotseland Agreement of 1964 must no longer be trivialized, as the Zambian Catholic Church rightly observed in 2016 that the new national constitution had undermined the possibility of resolving the Barotseland self-determination question which the church considers a source of simmering tension since Zambia's Independence.
We have consistently said that Barotseland’s quest for self-determination is a legitimate claim and that seeking independence could not possibly be termed criminal because if seeking independence was a crime, then Zambia also committed a crime in 1964 when it sought independence from Britain! And so did every other country in the world that got its independence from colonialism!
This is why matters of independence are rightly considered under international human rights globally, to the extent that even rebel leaders are respected enough and called to sit down with ruling governments in order to find the most peaceful ways forward!
A BAROTSELAND POST COMMENTARY FOR 13TH SEPTEMBER 2018