The long awaited treason case involving opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others will start on August 14 2017 in the Lusaka High Court.
And reconciliatory talks between Mr Hichilema and President Edgar Lungu initiated by Catholic Bishops have hit a snag.
A check at the High Court registry on Friday afternoon revealed that Mr Hichilema’s case has been cause listed to be heard on August 14 2017 at 09 Hours by Ndola based High Court Justice Charles Chanda.
Mr Hichilema’s lawyer Gilbert Phiri also confirmed that Justice Chanda from Ndola will hear the treason case.
“On this date the matter will come for plea-taking and an explanation of the charge to the accused,” Mr Phiri said.
Mr. Hichilema and his five co-accused have been remanded at a Mukobeko Maximum prison in Kabwe.
The opposition leader has been in police custody since they were arrested on April 10 after a police raid at his home in Lusaka, following a dispute over the presidential motorcade.
Mr. Hichilema is accused of conspiring to overthrow the government of Zambia.
Treason is Zambia carries a death sentence.
And highly placed government sources have disclosed that efforts to reconcile Mr Hichilema and President Lungu have failed.
The sources said the talks failed after Mr Hichilema insisted that he will only discuss reconciliation when he is released from prison.
The source said President Lungu on the other hand was adamant that he will only entertain reconciliatory talks with Mr Hichilema if the opposition leader agreed to discuss such matter whilst still under detention.
The source revealed that Mr Hichilema stressed that there is no way he could start discussing any possible reconciliation with President Lungu whilst behind bars and told the Catholic Bishops that he is ready to face trial.
“This is why the case has now been cause listed because all efforts have failed. HH is not backing down on his demands that a prisoner cannot negotiate whilst behind bars whilst President Lungu is also insisting that dialogue can only start whilst HH remains in prison,” the sources said.
“As it stands, nothing has changed and President Lungu is determined that the case should proceed.”
On Thursday, Catholic Bishops led by Lusaka Diocese Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu travelled to Kabwe’s Mukobeko Prison and held a two and half hour long meeting with Mr Hichilema aimed at brokering dialogue and reconciliation between the UPND leader and President Lungu.
And on Friday, a five-member delegation of the Civil Society Constitution Agenda visited Mr. Hichilema at Mukobeko Maximum prison.
The delegation led by its Chairperson Bishop John Mambo was ushered into the correctional facility at about 10:30 Hours by facility authorities.
In a statement, CiSCA says the purpose of the visit was to offer solidarity and encourage the opposition leader in line with biblical teachings that mandates all believers to mourn with those who are mourning, to visit those in prisons and sympathise with those who are suffering.
“Further, CiSCA believes that genuine healing of the country cannot be separated from justice for all,” it said.
“CiSCA welcomes and supports the efforts of the Catholic Bishops in fostering reconciliation and unconditional dialogue. We further urge everyone to pray for the success of these efforts. We can only wish those mediating and all parties involved God’s guidance in handling this matter.”