- Southern Africa
Zambian separatists in treason charge as regional secession battles grow
Several Zambians, accused of clamoring for the secession of Barotseland in the western part of the country, were on Wednesday (19 January) dragged to court in Lusaka and charged with treason. Early January, another group in Zimbabwe called for the secession of Matabeleland.
Two journalists with independent publications -Nyambe Muyumbana, a reporter with Radio Lyambai and Mwala Kalaluka, with Post newspaper were nabbed for allegedly inciting riots.
On Saturday 130 separatist protesters were arrested following violent clashes between the police and groups of people agitating for the secession of the country’s Western Province, in an area known as Barotseland.
The protests, organized by separatists who argue that they have been overlooked by the government and confined to Barotseland, led to two deaths.
Government has since ordered Radio Lyambai to stop broadcasting, claiming the station was "propagating the autonomy of the western province from the rest of Zambia" reports say.
Lusaka magistrate Sharon Newa, according to reports, ordered the accused to be kept in custody whilst they await "a directive from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)” before being committed to the High Court where they would take plea" on 2 February.
Newa said that between October 1, 2010 and January 14, 2011 the accused attempted to takeover Western Province which is a part of the Republic of Zambia by force with intensions to set up “Barotseland” as an independent State.
On wednesday, twenty three Zambians were dragged to court in the capital, Lusaka, and charged with treason; charges that attract life sentence or the death penalty in the southern African country.
Reports emanating from Zambia indicate that police recovered 15 machetes, knives, catapults and an assortment of dangerous home-made weapons following the cancellation of a secessionists’ meeting the previous day.
Activists are said to be asking tribes other than the indigenous Lozi to leave the western province insisting that the area was about to secede from the rest of Zambia because the government has allegedly failed to develop the area. They also say that the government has not honored a pre-independence agreement; a move government has trashed.
Western Province, Copperbelt, North-Western and parts of Central Provinces formed part of Barotseland which later joined with North-Eastern Rhodesia to form Northern Rhodesia which later became Zambia when the country gained its independence from Britain in 1964.
Just across the border in Zimbabwe, known as (Southern) Rhodesia before its independence from Great Britain in 1980, calls are also being made for the partition of the county; A situation that could see Matabeleland breaking away from Zimbabwe and resulting in the creation of UMthwakazi State.
A Zimbabwean separatist group, known as Mthwakazi Liberation Front, says it is calling for the country to be divided into two separate entities because the Matabeleland region is heavily marginalized
Numerous other organizations in Africa, ranging from Biafra in the southeast of Nigeria, Casamance in the south of Senegal, Cabinda to the north of Angola and Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco, are actively fighting for national "freedom".