Disquiet over US military bases in SADC


Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema is widely seen as "chief tormentor" of opposition, a development, which is completely against his election promise campaign. Many Zambians believe Hichilema has become a monster

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE presence of a United States military base in Botswana and the launch of a US Africa Command (AFRICOM) office in Zambia has led to distrust of the two countries among fellow nations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.

This presence of the US facilities is seen as a deviation from the anti-imperialist ideals of the struggles that brought independence to the region.

“I’m sure Botswana and Zambia’s founding fathers of the armed liberation struggle against colonialism might be turning from their graves against current leaders shepherding these two countries,” Arcelio Sitoe of Mozambique told CAJ News Africa in a snap survey.

Sir Seretse Goitsebeng Maphiri Khama and Dr Kenneth Kaunda are the founding fathers of Botswana and Zambia respectively.

“I’m of the opinion that the two presidents of Botswana and Zambia must prove they are not against the ethos, principles, values and sentiments of what initially caused our forefathers to go to war of liberation against these same evil forces they are now inviting to set military bases in their respective countries, otherwise chances are high these two countries may sooner or later be labelled sellouts by future generations to come (SADC region),” Sitoe said.

Early this year, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Commander-In-Chief, Julius Malema, also frowned at South Africa’s neighbouring country, Botswana, for hosting the US military base arguing such attitudes threatened peace, security and stability, not only of South Africa, but the entire SADC region at large.

“Today here in Southern Africa we have an American military base in Botswana which threatens our security. If the Americans were to fly a fighter jet from that place (Botswana) to Union Buildings (State House for South Africa), it would take them two minutes to bomb the building. Why do you allow them (America) to have a military base in Botswana because no one can prepare to defend themselves in two minutes?” Malema expressed misgivings against Botswana.

Similarly, Zimbabwean anti-sanctions activist, Rutendo Matinyarare, lashed at the Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, of being an ally of the West.

This followed the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) discrediting the recent Zimbabwe elections.

Former Zambian Vice President, Nevers Mumba, led the mission.

“This Mumba was sent by Hichilema, who has a very amazing relationship with the Americans, the British and the Europeans, who imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe,” Matinyarare said.

“He (Hichilema) became a billionaire at a time where he was valuing the assets of the Zambian government, parastatals, and he was selling them to these very same Western countries at a soul, and he would be given kickbacks that would allow him to become the billionaire that he has become.”

Matinyarare added, “Hichilema is the only president in the Southern Africa region that has allowed AFRICOM to have a base that it is going to use to attack every single country in Southern Africa if the United States chooses to do that.”

There are allegations former opposition leader, Hichilema (now Zambian president), funded the campaign of Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

Thus the role of Mumba smacked of conflict of interest.

“In fact, Hichilema is invested in the Zimbabwe elections because he put his money behind the opposition, but the question is, what did he expect to benefit?” Matinyarare queried.

Selma Shikongo of Namibia said: “I call upon the next SADC Summit to severely scrutinise both Botswana and Zambia’s roles in inviting foreigners into our peaceful region (SADC) doorstep, why? This kind of desperation to win elections by inviting trouble-makers (US) to our region is satanic in itself, and we outrightly reject these new forms of imperialism manifesting in these two SADC member states.”

Neema Juma of Tanzania said: “Surrounding Zimbabwe with US military bases in Botswana and Zambia must be widely seen as waging psychological war against Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. SADC must call Botswana and Zambia into order before it is too late.”

Mumba, who torched electoral fire in Zimbabwe is not new to controversy as he was once expelled as vice president by then Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa for similarly sparking a row with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over claims Congolese businessmen were funding Zambia’s opposition.

Mumba’s utterances then severely soured relations between DRC and Zambia, which had already been strained by years of conflict in Congo resulting in thousands of Kinshasa influx of refugees into Zambia.

“I have with immediate effect removed Dr Nevers Mumba (as vice president) and in his place (Nevers Mumba), I appoint Lupando Mwape as vice president of Zambia,” Mwanawasa told reporters at state house at the time.

Mwanawasa is now deceased.

– CAJ News


















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