A lot of dust has been raised following the nolle prosequi entered by the state in the case of Hakainde Hichilema and later Economic and Equity Forum party president Chilufya Tayali. Naturally these decisions have been received with mixed feelings depending on which side of the legal divide one is on.
The more politically informed may not have been too surprised given the events surrounding the build up to these decisions. But the traditional political sceptics have found fault with these decisions. However it is not the merits and de-merits of these nolles that should preoccupy the country but rather the opportunity that these legal decisions provide for healing.
The nolle entered in the treason case should be used as a first step toward diffusing the political tension in the country. Part of the country had been hurting under the weight of what seemed like political suppression in the aftermath of the August 2016 elections. But with Hichilema out there could be no reason to miss out on the opportunity to build on the positives presented by his walking to freedom. We are not privy to the roadmap of the reconciliation process between Hichilema and President Edgar Lungu but we must repeatedly remind these two gentleman whose mutual dislike is well known to take the next step. It will not help for either party to stick to their hot headedness of pride that has dragged an entire population at loggerheads.
There should be no compromise on having the two gentlemen meet and diffuse the tension they have helped build. No matter the strong positions on either seeking to be publicly recognized or screaming about being robbed of victory there has to be a middle ground. Was it not ironic that President Lungu was willing to meet South African opposition leaders about the problems in Zambia whilst staying clear of his chief adversary back home?
And Hichilema on his part should tone down and stick to conciliatory language if the proposed dialogue has to work. The country has watched the two chief actors dance around each other and must now demand that the two personalities meet and resolve their differences.
At least someone recognized that the first step toward dialogue would be to release Hichilema albeit on a nolle and with that done there has to be a second step otherwise all that effort would have been in vain. Even small fry like Tayali could have had the potential to keep the animosity going if they had stayed on trial. So we implore the champions of the dialogue process to take the next step otherwise the nolle may just account for a possible abuse of the court process.