The state has u-turned on its decision to hold a preliminary inquiry into the treason charge against UPND president Hakainde Hichilema (HH) and his five co-accused. Last week, the matter was adjourned, when the prosecution agreed to an inquiry to ascertain whether the treason charge can hold in court. The inquiry was supposed to commence this week, on 4 May, but when the matter resumed under Magistrate Greenwell Malumani, the director of public prosecutions presented a certificate of committal for the case to be taken to the High Court, stating that it found it to be a proper case for trial by the High Court (treason can only be tried in the High Court). The defence was not amused. It accused the state of wanting “to perpetuate the incarceration of the accused”, reminding the court that several high-ranking PF politicians have made statements to the effect that it is okay for HH to suffer, even die. The state may not have to go this far. It simply has to secure a conviction. As no one convicted of a criminal offence is eligible to contest an election in Zambia, this would effectually bar HH from future presidential elections.

Finally, the defence asked the judge to submit the case to the High Court, not for trial of treason, but for constitutional determination.

The matter was adjourned to 5 May.