PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda’s government is secretly ‘compensating’ Western Province residents directly affected by January’s Mongu shootings and arrests while telling them that the Barotse Royal Establishment BRE caused their suffering.
Impeccable sources within the BRE in Limulunga said on Tuesday they were very upset with President Banda’s government, which was now trying to apportion blame over the Barotseland Agreement-related Mongu riots and police killings to the traditional establishment.
“We are receiving very shameful and disturbing reports that Rupiah Banda’s people are going round paying some of the people that were released from Mumbwa over the riots in Mongu and telling them that the BRE are the ones that caused you to be arrested and shot,” said the source who opted to remain anonymous because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“This government just wants to scandalise us (BRE) when all along we have been committed to a peaceful resolution of the Barotseland Agreement issue. We even sent them a letter where we outlined our suggestions on how to deal with the issue but it is the government that have not been forthcoming.”
The sources asked where the BRE leadership could draw strength to send a team of paramilitary police officers or state security agents all over the province to descend on people whose intent was to meet over the Barotseland Agreement.
“Who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces?
Who is looking for votes from the people of Western Province? Is it the BRE or Rupiah Banda? If President Banda feels no responsibility over the Mongu shootings, why did he fail to attend this year’s Kuomboka Ceremony? There was an ordination of Mongu Catholic Diocese Bishop Evans Chinyemba, he failed to attend the event despite being invited personally?
Now he is even dragging his feet to come and launch the so-called mobile hospitals as he did in other provinces,” the source said. “Since February this year, President Banda has made four trips to Chipata but how many times has he come to Mongu? Who is the guilty party here?”
The sources said the feeling within the BRE was that people should remember that Vice-President George Kunda was the one who first issued the threat that anybody who would attend the January 14, 2011 Limulunga meeting would be charged with treason.
“Actually some of us are embarassed that we had to be protected by police officers with guns but in the past when the late president Frederick Chiluba attacked the BRE leadership it was the people that came to our defence,” the source said. “Yes, the people that were arrested and shot over the Mongu riots are entitled to compensation but this should be left to the judiciary which is responsible for such claims. It should not be done in secret because someone wants to get votes.”
Several Mongu residents were in January this year arrested over the riots that rocked Mongu over the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, in which two people were shot and killed by the police, while others were maimed after sustaining gun shot wounds.
A 16-year-old boy of Limulunga Royal Village died in detention at Mumbwa Remand Prison where he was waiting for his trial to be disposed off by the Mumbwa Magistrate’s Court and several other detainees were released via a nolle prosequi while others were discharged on medical grounds.
Others are still waiting for their judgment in Mumbwa.
A 70-year-old man of Mongu’s Mbuywana Compound, Mwiya Sihope, who was charged and discharged on treason over the Mongu issue, died at Lewanika General Hospital arising from complications sustained during his over 50-day detention in Lusaka.
30-year-old Davison Siyoto had his right leg amputated at the University Teaching Hospital UTH after he was shot at during the Mongu incident.