The 45 aged between 23 and 37 were currently in police custody for participating in the act pending court appearance today.
Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba and his Home Affairs counterpart Edgar Lungu confirmed the development to journalists in Mongu on Saturday after leading members of the defence forces in conducting routine security checks in some parts of the province.
Mwamba and Lungu identified the duo currently on the run as Mumbutwa, who declared himself as Administrator-General for Barotseland, and Masiye, a teacher at Sioma High School.
The 45 were nabbed between August 14 and 17, 2013, comprising 27 from Kalabo, nine in Senanga and another nine in Mongu.
The arrested youths were said to have been promised employment as police officers and soldiers in the new State of Barotseland.
It was currently not known who was financing the secession activities, but Mwamba believed it was some “hardcore characters” who might not even be Western Province residents.
“We have found that there is a gentleman, in fact an activist, by the name of Mumbutwa and he has declared himself as Administrator-General of the Barotseland and on the 15th of August, 2013 he actually even wanted to hoist his flag.
“It’s a very serious offence hoisting a flag within a Government. You see, you can’t declare a government within a government. That is treasonable and in any case if he is found, because I believe he is on the run, we have to make sure that the law deals with him severely because he can’t declare a State within a State,” Mwamba said.
He said Mumbutwa’s plans to hoist a Barotseland flag were thwarted by alert security wings and that Mr Masiye’s house belonging to the Ministry of Education was believed to have been used as a meeting place for such clandestine activities.
Mwamba and his entourage visited the house in question, which had since been deserted, situated at Sioma High School premises and held a closed-door meeting at the premises.
“I would like to appeal to our youths here in Western Province that they should not be swayed by such kind of characters. They are being cheated that once they also become a State they will employ them as police officers and soldiers,” he said.
Mwamba said such activities were unacceptable and urged the people in the province to desist from treasonable vices, warning that those that defied his advice risked going to prison if the law caught up with them.
And Lungu said the 45 were likely to appear in court today, but that Government wanted to seek the indulgence from the Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito as there were various offences related to the crime.
Lungu said some of the people currently in detention were apprehended after being found with placards celebrating the declaration of Barotseland as a State.
“So there are various offences which have arisen out of the misconducts, but we are seeking the indulgence of the DPP. For now, a good number of those found with cases will appear in court on Monday (today). The two on the run should just surrender themselves,” he said.
Lungu reiterated that the offences differed from one individual to another, but that he could not say how many would appear for certain offences, saying that would partly be left to the DPP to decide.
He said despite the arrest of the 45 Barotseland secession activists, Western Province was generally peaceful as there was no breakdown.
Source: Times of Zambia