The ICC balancing act

Dear Editor,

After weeks of failed reconciliation efforts between the PF and the UPND, world class feet-dragging  and occasional outbreaks of half-hearted lawlessness at court houses by party cadres, there is finally progress in the Zambian post-election process. The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators are expected in the country to probe reported crimes against humanity allegedly committed by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema (HH) and his vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) following the post-election violence in Namwala of Southern province that left many injured and displaced (“Namwala violence: ICC on the way”, Daily Nation, October 26, 2016). GBM, the billionaire businessman, turned UPND deputy chief, has gone through another metamorphose. While HH still looks like the arch political operator he has always been.  The duo is now frequently seen in public hand-in-hand, grinning gleefully and gamely although looking slightly uncomfortable. That might be seen as signs of deep seated anxiety. Albeit, the UPND’s claim that it had reported its alleged stolen votes in the August 11 elections to the ICC has been dismissed and rubbished by government authorities. All set for fair and credible investigations by the ICC then? Not necessarily. The UPND Western backers, HH and GBM have been accused of having hidden agendas, and the ruling party, PF is concerned that the outcome of the ICC investigations might be decided before the UPND duo’s trial takes place in The Hague. There have been so many allegations of a secret pact between the EU and US diplomats accredited to Zambia, HH and GBM that the government authorities were forced to put out a formal denial. However, that has done nothing to halt the tsunami of speculation within the UPND circles. Even though the ICC investigations have been anticipated after a complaint was lodged by the Namwala violence victims through their lawyer, Lewis Nathan Advocates, but it now seems likely they will take place. Hazarding an exact date – in the Zambian political context – would be, however, foolhardy deserving the ICC balancing feat. Mubanga Luchembe, LUSAKA