Hakainde Hichilema: Zambia’s Opposition Leader Charged With Treason

Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema has been charged with treason for blocking President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

Hichilema who is the leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UNDP) was found guilty of blocking the president’s motorcade with his convoy of vehicles during a ceremony which took place over the weekend in Zambia’s western province.

President Lungu’s security personnel had reportedly tried to get Hakainde’s convoy to make way for the President’s but this proved futile.

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On Tuesday, Hakainde’s residence was raided after which he was arrested and taken to a police station.

Hichilema told the Daily Maverick from a safe room during the raid,

“This guy (President Edgar) Lungu, he wants to kill me. He’s basically broken into my house and put his men around. The whole night they were harassing my wife and children,” 

“In the house we have a secure room (so we went there). They have beaten all my workers. And they are still here. This guy is a dictator, a full-blown dictator. We’ve been saying so, no one in the region has been listening, and this is the consequence of not taking notice.”

Treason in the Zambia is punishable by a death sentence.

The opposition, however, deny doing any wrong. Hichilema’s lawyer, Jack Mwiimbu says the charge is a waste of time.

“The charge is nonsensical and no sensible lawyer can come up with such a charge,”  

“The unfortunate part is that the police are being unprofessional considering that it is the (ruling party) who have been proposing that HH must be charged with treason.”

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Last year, Hichilema lost the presidential election to incumbent leader, Lungu. He, however, protested the result citing irregularities during the vote-counting process. As a result, he filed a petition in the supreme court stating that the election was rigged and should be annulled.

However, he failed to meet the 14-day deadline by which he was supposed to have presented evidence against President Edgar Lungu’s win. This resulted in the court’s rejection of the petition.

“There is no petition to be heard before this court,” Judge Annie Sitali said at the time when Hakainde’s 14-day deadline had expired.

Hichilema, however, insists that Lungu is not his President except the court handles the case.