The Zambian government has finally responded to The African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) in a matter where Barotseland has dragged Zambia to the Banjul based African Union Human Right Commission.
Barotseland applied to the ACHPR in November 2012 through the Ngambela acting on behalf of the Litunga, his council, the chiefs and peoples of Barotseland but the Zambian government kept on requesting for extensions for them to respond.
Barotseland authorities had submitted a 256 page document of forensic evidence against Zambia detailing human rights violations against the people of Barotseland, some of which was from the Roger Chongwe Commission of Inquiry, a creation of the Zambian government.
All the steps which Zambia took to violate the 1964 Barotseland Agreement which attempted to bring together two separate British protectorates of Barotseland and Northern Rhodesia to form the unitary state of Zambia are also before the African Commission.
In response, Zambian’s Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa submitted that Barotseland’s application is not admissible before the Commission because the Barotseland Agreement came into force in 1964 before the period of the application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which entered into force in 1986.
Zambia has also submitted that if there are any human rights violations against the people of Barotseland then Zambia should be given an opportunity to remedy such violations before being taken before the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights.
It is further agued by the Zambian government that the complainants have not demonstrated that they have exhausted local remedies and have not lodged any case in any courts of law in the Republic of Zambia.
Zambia’s submission also claims that they have not carried out any unprovoked arrests and killings of Barotse youths arguing that such reports are solely based on news disseminated through the mass media.
The Zambian government further said the AU should reject Barotseland’s bid to secede from Zambia just like in rejected the bid by the Katanga province to pull out of Zaire (Cong0).
In return, the African Union Court sent Zambia’s response to the office of the Ngambela for any counter response or further evidence to be submitted within one month effective 14th May 2015.
Currently eight people are in prison over Barotseland Agreement related cases among them the leader for Linyungandambo, Afumba Mombotwa who is at Mwembeshi prison with three others from December 2014.