An indepth of State Security hunting down Barotse Activists

By Bisesa Mungalu

Anxiety continues to hover over Barotseland like a dark cloud threatening an unpleasant and untimely storm due to Police State sponsored Terrorism.

BAROTSE-POLICEThis state of affairs has accelerated in intensity and velocity since one, Afumba Mombotwa declared himself Administrator General of Barotseland in a ‘darkroom’ ceremony before an unnamed Chief Justice.

Almost all the regions of Barotseland have been affected and Kaoma has not been spared. Police started with the surrounding of the house of Kaoma Secondary School Head Teacher, a Mr. Mukenge, whom they arrested and drove to Mongu like a common criminal but later released without charge. In their continued ‘wild goose hunt’, Police searched the house of a Mr. Lubasi Mukamba,  prominent personality and businessman in his absence, a search which yielded nothing.

Mr Mukamba had in the past been searched and arrested alongside Mr. Nyambe Namushi and Mr. Mwenda. The duo (Mr Mukamba and Mr Namushi) then was being accused of recruiting ex-servicemen into the imaginary Barotseland Defence Forces.

Suffice it to say the arrests yielded nothing apart from a lawsuit by the duo where the state has been brought to court for unlawful arrest or whatever.

For a number of days some prominent persons have been receiving anonymous calls suggesting that the police were closing in on them and suggesting that they take cover if need be to avoid possible arrest. Mungandi wa Mungandi and Nyambe Namushi were among those who have been receiving such calls and some of their relatives were being treated to the same amount of terrorism through anonymous calls on their behalf.

This culminated in a police call out brought by a Police officer to Mungandi wa Mungandi on Friday 7th September2013. On the afternoon of that day Mutompehi Mungandi reported himself to the Police Officer in Charge. The Officer in Charge immediately summoned other officers who included CID officers and Intelligence Officers making a combined team of about seven (7) officers in all.

Mungandi wa Mungandi was told that he was summoned by police to answer some questions since police had information that he had stacks of seditious materials at his home to which he laughed and answered calmly that he doesn’t even know how seditious materials look like.

He was then shown some documents which Police claimed were from his home. The three documents were; The Barotseland Agreement 1964 in Silozi, A research paper written by the late Professor Eric M. Kashimani in his undergraduate years at UNZA on Barotseland and an article from ZWD claiming that the Litunga wants to dethrone Mulena Inyambo and Amukena II.

He acknowledged that indeed the documents were his or at least similar to documents he actually has but he never knew that any of the documents were seditious and wondered how documents that were securely kept in his bedroom were in the hands of police officers.

When asked if he had any more such documents he answered that as a researcher and writer himself he collects a lot of information and documents for future use but he does not understand what the officer meant by ‘any such’ because as far as he was concerned the documents in question were just ordinary documents that are very much in the public domain.

The officer clarified and said he meant anything to do with, or written Barotseland to which Mungandi wa Mungandi retorted and demanded to know if anything to do or written Barotseland should be classified as seditious.

When asked if he could give the officers permission to go and look at some of the documents that he has at his home, he answered that he sees no reason why he should give such permission and after all it appeared to him that police already has a way of getting into peoples’ homes without their knowledge, let alone their permission and get whatever they wished to take.

One of the officers asked if that was an accusation to the police of having broken into the house of Mungandi wa Mungandi. He responded with a question to the same officer as to what he himself would think if something he was sure was securely kept in his bedroom was found in someone else’s hands which question went unanswered.

At that juncture, the Officer in Charge asked his colleagues if they had any more questions for Mr. Mungandi to which they responded in the negative but rather requested that he be asked to wait outside as they consult each other on what to do next.

The police officer who is a key source of this story (but has requested to be kept confidential for obvious reasons) claims that the team of officers were split with some especially those from the OP demanding that Mr. Mungandi’s house be searched while the others maintained that from the question it seemed clear that Mr Mungandi wa Mungandi was innocent and conducting a search at his home would just end up in embarrassment to the security forces as it would yield nothing positive on their side.

Most of the officers expressed surprise at the ease with which Mr Mungandi answered the questions and the confidence and lack of any trace of fear in his countenance during the heavey interrogation.

After the closed door consultation which lasted for about fifteen minutes, Mr Mungandi wa Mungandi was invited back and thanked for his cooperation during the questioning and asked to simply sign a statement which would indicated that he actually underwent Police questioning. He expressed reluctance to do so but the Officer in Charge convinced him that it was nothing sinister but just to put on record the fact that indeed he underwent Police questioning.

Before signing the brief statement Mungandi wa Mungandi challenged the Police officers that they are the ones that are causing confusion in Barotseland by not being very straight forward with the Law and doing such things like calling every simple document that has something to do with Barotseland as seditious and thus causing panic among the citizenry for no apparent reason.

He insisted that there is no way the Barotseland Agreement 1964 could be classified as seditious since the current President himself is responsible for the wide speculation that it enjoys since he called it an honest document which only dishonest people have problem with and actually ordered its publication in all of Zambia’s prominent Newspapers.

Neither could a research paper be classified as seditious just because the researcher was researching on Barotseland. A newspaper printout could also not be referred to as seditious because whatever is published by media houses is published for public consumption and if the Government has a problem with any such publication they should come up with a Law in form of a statutory instrument to declare such material seditious.

After he signed the one paragraph statement, Mungandi wa Mungandi was called by the Officer in Charge back into the officer where they locked only the two of themselves up for about five minutes.

It is not very clear what they discussed but this reporter’s source suspects that the Officer in Charge might have revealed how Police got possession of the documents from Mr Mungandi wa Mungandi’s  home and probably apologised to him for any inconvenience caused.

When this reporter interviewed Mutompehi Mungandi wa Mungandi on phone, he was reluctant to delve into the details of his closed door discussion with the police Officer in Charge, claiming that whatever was discussed with him behind closed door was in confidence and based on trust and he did not see any reason why he should betray that trust.

As far as he was concerned what was important was that for now he was still a free man though he does not know for how long he will remain free because it appears to him that he has been on the police hit list for several months now in fact since the epic BNC of March 2012 in which he participated alongside the rest who were there.

It remains a mystery why successive Zambian Governments cannot see that the issue of Barotseland is a matter of reality and no amount of state terrorism will make it die a natural death.

The current Government should be bold enough to hold the bull by its horns and face the challenge to resolve this half century long conflict. They are just no two ways about it.

Bisesa Mungalu is a Freelancer Journalist