There was visible confusion on the faces of South African journalists yesterday, when Lungu interchangeably used the reasons for UPND’s President’s incarceration, as being as a result of the offence of treason, while quickly switching to Hakainde’s refusal to recognize his presidency, as the reason for his detention.
Most State House watchers regard this shift as a profound confirmation that Edgar Lungu is using Hakainde’s refusal to recognize him, as a major bargaining chip for granting the latter’s freedom.
The visibly angry Lungu who was in the company of visiting South African President Jacob Zuma, told the journalists, “go and ask him to show you the evidence that he won the elections”, adding, “he is a suspect, I have told President Obasanjo to ‘talk’ to him”, in refence to former Nigerian President General Olusgun Obasanjo, who was in Lusaka to try to broker a settlement between the two leaders. Mr Lungu authorised him to visit Mr Hichilema in the Central Province town of Kabwe, approximately 200 km north of the Zambian Capital aboard a Government helicopter.
Mr Hichilema and his party have made several unsuccessful but spirited attempts to petition in the courts of law and so the apparent nodding by Mr Lungu that HH as he is popularly known, presents evidence to journalists instead of the courts, baffled the scribes as many Zambians who watched the brief interview on local TV channels.
Within minutes of the interview, pro Government news media outlets including social on line networks began to broadcast unsubstantiated bulletins, claiming Gen Obasanjo agreed with the position taken by the Zambian dictator.
Gen Obasanjo by yesterday evening had not yet released a detailed official statement, on the status of the talks, other than several press quotes allegedly attributed to him.
Gen Obasanjo joins the Catholic Bishops who for several weeks have been shuttling between the Maximum prison and the Zambian State House, to try to break the impasse, that has seen a once peaceful and democratic Southern African Nation, on the brink of civil strife.