The decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to enter a nolle prosequi in the treason case was not surprising. It was as certain as the sun rising tomorrow.

All alert Zambians expected the outcome; it was just the question of which method of humiliation the State was going to choose. And as if discontinuing the case was not enough embarrassment, DPP Lillian Siyunyi entered a ‘nolle’ but citing a wrong provision of the law – further confusing the judge in his explanation to the accused persons.

“The DPP has decided to terminate these proceedings by virtue of her constitutional powers. Therefore, you are hereby discharged from this offense. But this is not an acquittal as at any time, you can be rearrested for this [same] offense. But for now you are free to go home,” said judge Charles Chanda, without even giving chance to the defence team to respond to the decision by the DPP.

Law experts, however, say judge Chanda was misled by the DPP because the law that Siyunyi cited covered “public interest” and did not leave an option for re-arresting the accused persons. But this is what happens when a choreographed plan goes astray – villains get exposed. The DPP somehow left the judge in an awkward position. It was as if he was aware of the nolle prosequi even before the case was called and prepared his response ahead of time, without taking time to appreciate the Article invoked.

Under this PF government, such abnormalities are no big deal. “It shows that the judiciary is independent”, that’s all you will hear from those in power. None of them will agree that there is something wrong within the system that needs fixing. In just one week, the State has ‘lost’ four political cases and counting… Obvious Mwaliteta was discharged, the UPND vice-president had no case to answer in Kitwe, the infamous treason case had no more legs to ‘walk’ on, and Chilufya Tayali has the last laugh. In the face of all this, the PF will still insist that their hands are clean.

Anyway, the damage has already been caused; and like we said before, these political cases were not about the accused persons, they were not about UPND. They were about the rule of law in Zambia. These cases, especially the treason matter, damaged the country’s democratic narrative. Zambia will never be the same again. The government may disagree with us, the ruling party may also claim to have the capacity to clean this mess, but it will take decades and probably another generation of politicians to return Zambia to its original democratic DNA.

As citizens, what we can do for now is to console one another in the face of unprecedented political brutality. We have to find time to pray for the souls of those who have lost lives from political violence, those who have been tortured and harassed because of their political affiliation.

Our tribute goes to the five ‘co-abused’ who spent 127 days in incarceration along with the UPND leader.

They suffered the same punishment, if not worse. They lived in the same inhuman conditions, but they were never in the limelight. Their pain was never heard; they endured in silence. All the headlines were about Hakainde Hichilema. “Police move HH to Kabwe”, “Police stop family members from visiting HH”, “Commonwealth envoy visits HH at Mukobeko”, “HH, Edgar Lungu agree to reconcile”, “State discontinues treason case against HH”, and so on and so forth.

Wallace Chakawa, Hamusonde Hamaleka, Muleya Hachinda, Laston Mulilanduba and Pretorius Haloba are not names that many Zambians are familiar with, but these are the men who have paid the greatest price from this bogus treason fiasco.

Wallace Chakawa, Hamusonde Hamaleka, Muleya Hachinda, Laston Mulilanduba and Pretorius Haloba are Zambia’s unsung heroes. No one specifically spoke for them when they were in detention. Even when they were discharged, the “Treason 5” had no one following them to their houses to witness how their families welcomed them. No one seemed interested to hear their story; how they spent their tough nights in prison. All cameras followed Hichilema, because he was the man of the moment. But these names should not be forgotten. Our message to the “Treason 5” and indeed Mr Hakainde Hichilema himself is that they must heal, they must accept the punishment and realise that they may never even be compensated for the price they have had to pay for democracy. But should Zambians make the choice of rewarding them with power to govern this country in future, they must not fight hurt with hate, they must resist the revenge temptation.

Our country cannot afford to continue with a system of justice by vengeance. We urge Zambians to show bravery and to speak up, but avoid unnecessary exposure to the wrath of the oppressor. Rebuilding this country’s democracy through peace may require us to accept a certain degree of impunity until it is the right time to pluck it out permanently.