From the very beginning, Edgar Lungu and his minions knew that they had no treason case against Hakainde Hichilema and his co-accused.
They were not after a conviction; they simply wanted Hakainde in jail on a non-bailable offence. They had from the very beginning the intention to keep him in jail for four months and review the situation after that. They were openly talking about that in their circles, at the Ministry of Home Affairs and at State House. They were saying the incarceration of Hakainde had put them under pressure but it was manageable.
Their intention was to cripple Hakainde and the UPND and ensure that there’s “no contest in 2021”. It was very clear to everyone that they had no treason case and not even a traffic offence against Hakainde. What they needed, at any cost, was a non-bailable charge to use against Hakainde and incarcerate him.
Hakainde’s release on a nolle prosequi and not a discharge is simply an attempt by shameless people to save face. They have no treason case to prosecute Hakainde for now or in the future. The injustice is palpable. To keep an innocent person in prison for four months and five days and expect him to say “thank you” for releasing him on a nolle prosequi is not only expecting too much but being extremely foolish. How can one be thanked for ending his foolish act in an equally foolish way?
These were trumped treason charges by desperate, evil, corrupt and frightened little men afraid of their own shadows. Spuriously devised, fraudulent, fabricated charges are impossible to prosecute even before the most biased, compromised courts. It is beyond dispute that Hakainde was arrested on some trumped-up treason charges. They simply concocted a treason case against him so that they can detain, torture and humiliate him. The case is a farce – a broad satire or comedy, something that is supposed to be serious but has turned ridiculous.
Where do we go from here? Probably nowhere! But there’s a record of what happened and who was responsible for all this injustice. At the right time, this case must be revisited and everyone made to answer for their role in it. That is the only way we can put a stop to such abuses of power and violations of human rights in our homeland. Edgar will have to explain his role in it. Kakoma Kanganja, the Inspector General of Police, will have explain his decisions in this case. Lillian Siyuni, the Director of Public Prosecutions, will have to explain her treason charges against Hakainde and his co-accused. And even Stephen Kampyongo, the Minister of Home Affairs, will have to explain his role in this matter. They shouldn’t cheat themselves that the law they have abused will give them immunity.
In saying this, we are not in any way preaching vindictiveness, revenge or hatred. There’s a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out of their way to hurt others, will end up broke and alone. And Pope Francis says, “Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful.” The most important thing is that the Zambian people are not vindictive, vengeful or hateful by nature. They are not here to oppress or abuse anybody – but to join together and build Zambia, with justice and equality. We have all seen from Edgar and his minions how human beings lose their logic in their vindictiveness. This is dangerous because our present government of Edgar and its state agencies by all accounts know no restraint in hitting out at any perceived enemy, and nobody or nothing can protect one from their vindictiveness.
What we are preaching here is the repudiation, rejection and hatred of injustice. We are not preaching vindictiveness, vengeance or hatred. In biblical history, we were taught that there were even struggles in heaven, among the angels – and if there were struggles in heaven, how can we fail to understand that there may be struggles on earth? Jesus made some very strong charges against the Pharisees and called Herod a fox. What’s more, Jesus tells us we must love our enemies – he doesn’t say we mustn’t have enemies – and there is no greater love for a tyrant than to prevent him from oppressing, brutalising and humiliating others.
We were also taught that there was a constant struggle between good and evil, and evil had to be punished. Well, we are not going to say we share that belief. We were taught that those who commit crimes and were responsible for injustice, evil and all those other things that we are fighting against, would be punished in hell. Could that be interpreted as an act of vindictiveness, vengeance or hatred? When a person with blood on his hands is being punished, it is not out of vindictiveness, vengeance or hatred. There’s no sense in vindictiveness, revenge or hatred. On whom are you being vindictive, taking revenge? History? The whole society that engendered those tyrants, monsters? What are you avenging?
Cruelty is, perhaps, the worst kind of sin. Cruelty, like every other vice, requires no motive outside of itself; it only requires opportunity. And all cruelty springs from weakness – fear is the parent of cruelty. Weakness is what brings cheapness, desperation, cruelty, brutality, all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor. Cruelty can be described as deriving pleasure from deliberately inflicting suffering on others. Psychologically, cruelty is the manifestation of frustration and anger, which is given vent by deliberate aggression. Cruelty is a general human phenomenon, as animals do not really inflict pain on mere whim. It is only humans who can truly comprehend pain and suffering and voluntarily inflict it on others to satiate their sadistic instinct or avenge an insult.
Abusing the criminal justice system to fix political opponents is cruelty. And there is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. All tyranny and cruelty are wrong, and whenever we see them, we must never be silent. The truth doesn’t have to do with cruelty, the truth has to do with justice. And as Maximilien Robespierre said, “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is cruelty.” And Leon Trotsky was probably right when he said, “In a serious struggle, there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous at an inopportune time.”
Hakainde and his co-accused are out of prison on a nolle prosequi, what’s next? Where do they go from here?