AFUMBA MOMBOTWA SPEAKS OUT: 'Keeping me in prison days after my pardon is a serious anomaly, stop insulting the Litunga!'

14 November 2019
FILE: Afumba Mombotwa - Barotseland Independence leader - CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE


"I believe I am a free man who should be out of this prison and be with my loved ones, having been pardoned by the Zambian President on Monday!” Afumba Mombotwa.

In an exclusive recorded interview obtained by Barotseland Post earlier today, Mr Afumba Mombotwa (60) has bemoaned his continued incarceration more than two days after the President of Zambia had pardoned him.

And Afumba Mombotwa has urged those reportedly accusing the Litunga, King of Barotseland, of having a hand in his continued stay in prison after his presidential pardon to stop it because presidential pardons are the prerogative of the President.

Meanwhile, Mr Mombotwa believes he is a free man who should be out of the maximum prison facility by now to be with his loved ones, having been pardoned by the Zambian President on Monday, 11th November 2019.

He has, therefore, called his continued incarceration a very serious anomaly that the Zambian president, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, should immediately resolve.

In yet to be explained circumstances, the Barotseland independence leader’s name was expunged from the list of pardoned inmates publicized by both State House and the President on Monday.

When asked by a journalist why the number of names pardoned by the president had reduced from five (5) to four (4) in a subsequent press briefing on Monday, with the notable absence of Mr Afumba Mombotwa’s name, Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, explained that the list he was presenting was the official list and that any other list circulated or publicised earlier was overruled.

Mr Kampyongo’s explanation, however, has prompted many observers to question whether it was constitutional for the president to revoke a pardon several hours after he had already signed and announced it to the nation under his prerogative of mercy provided for in the Zambian laws.

Notable among those immediately questioning the constitutionality of what had transpired is opposition Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) leader, Mr Sean Tembo.

The President’s signed statement of pardon was not only widely circulated on social media but was also made available to both radio and television stations in the country, including the country’s national broadcaster, ZNBC on their 13:00hrs news bulletins on Monday 11th November 2019.

“According to the Zambian law on the prerogative of mercy that the president enjoys, I believe I am a free man who should be out of prison, and with my family already, having been pardoned by the Zambian president on Monday,” Mr Afumba has declared in the exclusive interview.

“What I know, and many students of law and legal minds will agree, is that once a Presidential pardon has been signed and announced, it can not be rescinded.

“And once signed and publicised, no other authority, such as that of the minister of home affairs, can reverse the signed and publicized presidential pardon because the President alone enjoys that constitutional privilege.”

“A presidential pardon,” Mr Mombotwa has argued, “is not arrived at without all due diligence. Therefore, for it to reach the stage of signing and announcement, it should have passed through all the pre-requisite stages of thorough consultations.

“To claim that my presidential pardon was rescinded after it was not only signed but also publicised by the presidency would be a very serious constitutional anomaly never heard anywhere else before in the free and civilized world!

“You know, we also heard the announcement on the radio and watched it on television. And even some of those who have access to newspapers have also told us that the names of those pardoned, including my own, was published in some named newspapers. So, for it to have reached the announcement stage, it means it was signed and finalized.

“We can, therefore, only wish to appeal for calm in Barotseland as we hope that President Lungu, who is a lawyer himself, will immediately work out modalities to resolve this anomaly. After all, it is he who pardoned us and his record and reputation is at stake as the international community is also watching.

“People must also understand that as much as the constitution provides for the prerogative of mercy, it does not give the president the powers to rescind his decisions after it has already been executed by signature and public announcement. This has never happened before and it would be an abuse of his presidential powers as provided for under the prerogative of mercy.”

When asked to address speculations that he may have probably rejected the pardon in view of the fact that his two comrades, Inambao Kalima (59) and Pelekelo Likando (64), were not offered the same pardon like him, or that the pardon may have been offered with conditions he objected to, Mr Mombotwa said he could never possibly have 'refused' or 'accepted' the pardon because no official contact has ever approached him concerning a presidential pardon.

“The way we all see it here is that my presidential pardon is unconditional as no official contact has ever approached me now or before to explain or to negotiate my possible release on any conditions.

“So, how could I have refused or accepted the pardon that we all only heard on the radio?

“In any case, my two colleagues and other prisoners who know us were all happy for me and were all excited that sooner rather than later, my compatriots too would be unconditionally released since we were all tried and convicted on the same charges of treason felony. Our conviction and sentences were the same and of equal severity,” said the Barotseland administrator as he further appealed to the church, lawyers and all interested human rights activists to look into his predicament and rectify this undesirable precedent that no Zambian may wish to be repeated ever again.

And when asked to comment on some other speculations from some quarters that the Litunga, Imwiko II, may have interfered in his presidential pardon because of his alleged fear of his (Afumba) popularity among the people of Barotseland, Mr Mombotwa was quick to urge that such unfair rumour-mongering must stop forthwith.

“A presidential pardon is the prerogative of the president of Zambia, and once the president has exercised these constitutional powers, nobody, including the Litunga, King of Barotseland, could overrule the president. I am not aware that the president of Zambia, in the exercise of his constitutional presidential powers over the Zambian state, could be overruled by the Litunga of Barotseland.

“Therefore, we wish to state categorically that the president alone is responsible for this matter and it is he who must resolve this very serious anomaly.

“In this regard, we wish to call on our supporters to stay calm and stay away from such unsubstantiated rumours. It is unfair to the Litunga who could not even speak in his defence.

“No true follower of mine and no true Linyungandambo should be engaged in the spread of such unfair speculations.

“A true Linyungandambo will always seek to argue, peacefully, his or her case with superior and truthful knowledge.

“Barotseland is a constitutional monarchy whose head is the Litunga. Therefore, we advise all our followers to accord the Litunga all the respect and reverence deserving of his office.”

Mr Mombotwa has further advised his followers to remember that it was primarily for pledging allegiance to the Litunga, through the solemn oath he undertook on 13th August 2013 that he would faithfully serve both the nation of Barotseland and His Majesty the Litunga, King of Barotseland, Imwiko II, as the sovereign de jure and Head of state of the Royal Kingdom of Barotseland, that he and his two compatriots were in Zambian jail today.

“Any leader in Barotseland who could not pledge loyalty and allegiance to the office of the Litunga of Barotseland is not worthy of that office," he said.

“We wish to advise all our leaders and followers, the true Linyungandambo, to respect the Litunga. He is our King and the head of our monarchy. We can not expect the world to respect our Ngocana (Sovereign) if we do not respect him in the first place.

“We have nothing against the Litunga and he must be left out of these matters which are the preserve of the president of Zambia.

“As we appeal for calm, we, in the same vein, call upon those with legal knowledge and lovers of law and constitutionalism, lovers of justice and campaigners of human rights, human dignity and the church to help resolve this current anomaly.

“To the President, we wish to urge him to do that which is right and just, and correct the current situation created by him alone as we look forward to thanking him, not only for my pardon but also for the freedom of my two comrades as our crimes are not ordinary crimes but are based on matters of conscience and politics that can be dealt with through political dialogue and discourse.

“May the grace of our Lord be with you all as we look forward to being with you as soon as the Zambian president resolves our present predicament.

“My fellow prisoners, Inambao and Likando send their most generous greetings.”

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.