THE African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) should ignore Barotse National Freedom Alliance (BNFA)’s manoeuvre to hold Government to ransom by claiming that there were human rights violations in Western Province, the Nkoya Royal Council (NRC) has charged.
Reacting to claims by the ACHPR over BFNA’s allegations that the Zambian Government had committed human right violations the Barotse riots between protestors and police on 14 January 2011 in Mongu, NRC chairperson David Tamboka advised the commission not to act on hearsay because the claim was filed by people who had a hidden agenda.
Mr. Tamboka told the Daily Nation yesterday that if ACHPR tolerated those who were agitating for secession from Zambia, Nkoyas will be left with no option but to join hands with the Mbundas to petition the same institution over the Lozis’ violation of the rights of people from other tribes in the province.
He said as far as NRC was concerned, the issue that the BNFA had presented to the AU was a farce and a non-starter because not all Lozis participated in the 2011 protests as most of them were opposed to the idea of secession, adding that the whole issue was peddled by a few selfish individuals who were backed by external institutions to bring confusion in the country.
Mr Tamboka said there was no way the Lozis could continue to play the victim when they were the ones in the forefront of suppressing the rights of other tribes in the province.
“We want to warn the ACHPR in advance that if they ever try to tolerate this group, we shall have no option but to file a counter petition against them because they are the perpetrators of human rights violations and not Government.
“The issue of secession is not what all Lozis want; it is just a few individuals who have benefitted from their funders and have managed to lure a few unsuspecting Lozis to join them in the name of fighting for Barotseland.
How many tribes are in the region called Barotseland? How many have you ever heard supporting the Lozis on the same? That tells you that it is a selfish move by selfish individuals,” Mr. Tamboka said.
He blamed government for being lenient towards some activists in Western Province which he said had led to wide spread mediocrity and lawlessness in the region as people were taking advantage of the soft approach to differences by Government.
“Government has been too lenient on these people. Do you think they would have even attempted to petition government under Michael Sata? Didn’t you see what happened when they wanted to create tension in 2011 how they were dealt with by Rupiah Banda? Government should not treat these people with kid gloves. That is why they are creating all this tension,” he said.
According to a letter written by ACHPR Secretary Mary Maboroke addressed to BNFA chairman general Wainyae Sinyinda dated 18th August, 2015, the commission adopted the BFNA communication for consideration.
“I write to notify you that a decision on admissibility of communication 429/12-The Ngambela of Barotseland and others versus the Republic of Zambia was adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights during its 18th extraordinary session.
“In line with Article 59 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights read in conjunction with rule 107(3) of the rules of procedure of the commission, the decision of the commission will be transmitted to you after the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union has authorised the publication of the commission’s activity report,” reads the letter in part.
In 2013 the BNFA submitted a 258-page petition of alleged “forensic evidence” and arguments to the ACHPR, detailing human rights violations against the people of Barotseland following the Mongu riots was during the protests that two people were killed and several others injured by police shooting.
The protesters went on a rampage destroying property, pelting police officers with stones and attempting to set a fuel station ablaze.
Government also submitted that the AU should reject Barotseland’s bid to secede from Zambia just as it rejected the bid by the Katanga Province to pull out of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).