The Independence Churches Association of Zambia has demanded for the release of the Barotse activists for the sake of peace and unity in the country.
The Independent Churches Association of Zambia (ICOZ) board chairman Bishop Masupa David said the issues obtaining in Western Province made sad reading, especially that the detainees were charged for treason, for allegedly celebrating the proclaimed swearing in of Barotseland administrator general of the royal Barotseland kingdom in Mongu, Afumba Mombotwa.
The clergyman said it was important that the government handled the case with caution the people in the area felt intimidated, by police arresting and oppressing them, especially that the ruling PF government had promised to honour the Agreement, once in power.
Bishop Masupa stated that the government was turning a blind eye to a matter that could be resolved if handled with caution, and the attention it deserved.
He said that as Zambia celebrated independence, the government must note that everyone in the country enjoyed their freedom, if peace and stability was maintained.
“As the church, we wouldn’t like to see people sidelined and be denied their freedom and have their rights violated because of being linked to issues that are oppressive, but what we are expecting is to see a Zambia that shows the principles of a Christian nation,” he said.
Bishop Masupa said that the contentious Barotseland Agreement of 1964 would never go away without dialogue between the affected parties, and that trying to ignore the issue was jeopardising the whole process.
He appealed to the government to expedite the process and also the trials regarding the Agreement because what was arising from it was not healthy for a democratic country like Zambia.
Meanwhile, the opposition NAREP has condemned the decision by the government to move the Barotse activists from Mongu to Mwembeshi.
NAREP secretary general Jevan Kamanga observed that the decision was a double punishment not only to the activists, but also to the relatives and friends of the incarcerated persons.
Kamanga explained that the affected families would incur additional transport and other costs to visit their family members in Mwembeshi.
He said “before Zambia attained her independence, the colonial administration was fond of using the tactic of moving prisoners from one province to another and this was always a sign of lack of popularity and was driven by a sense of fear of the community in which they were operating”.
The opposition leader also advised that the PF administration should aim to promote dialogue in order to resolve the grievances of the Barotse activists by considering that they too deserved justice.