ANALYSIS: A small victory, but Zambians still fear for democracy
Treason charges against opposition leader have been dropped ‘to save prosecutors being made to look more ridiculous than a grandfather in a pink miniskirt’
Treason charges against Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema were finally dropped last week, but his release from prison after a four-month incarceration is only a small victory for democracy. Hichilema had been charged with treason for failing to give way to the motorcade of President Edgar Lungu at a traditional ceremony. The arrest has been widely condemned, locally and internationally. The state didn’t pursue the charges because they were "trumped up", says Zambian lawyer Elias Munshya. "There was no evidence for treason. But they kept Hichilema in jail, probably in order to teach him a lesson." Hichilema was jailed after a late-night raid on his home by heavily armed police in April. His release was met with muted celebration. Laura Miti, executive director of the Alliance for Community Action, says Hichilema’s release "does not in any way atone" for his imprisonment. She describes the treason charges as some of the "most outlandish" ever.