from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE divisive elections in Zimbabwe have heightened political tensions in neighbouring Zambia, which headed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission that criticised the polls.
Nevers Mumba, the former Vice President, headed the mission, in Zambia’s capacity as the incoming Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
The past election was the first time SADC has broken ranks with Zimbabwe, by giving a damning assessment of the August 23/24 that had incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa announced as the winner of the presidential race, ahead of his main rival, Nelson Chamisa leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
Sentiment among some politicians north of the Zambezi, mostly critics of the current government of President Haikande Hichilema, who appointed Mumba to lead the SADC delegation, is that the mission’s preliminary report of the Zimbabwe election was preconceived, to side with “puppets and agents of western imperialism.”
Among those holding this view is Fred M’membe, President of the Socialist Party.
Critics of the United Party for National Development (UPND) accuse Zambia of cosying up to the west since it came to power in 2021.
M’membe was among the first leaders in the region to congratulate Mnangagwa and in the process taking a swipe at SADC’s and other observers.
“We reject all attempts to judge Zimbabwe’s elections by standards different from those used in other countries on the continent and elsewhere,” he said.
“Nothing the imperialists, their agents and puppets will say and do, will take away your well fought electoral victory,” M’membe’s message to Mnangagwa read.
In its congratulatory message, the main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) also played the imperialism card, in what is perceived as an indirect attack on Mumba, poll observers, Hichilema and UPND.
“Furthermore, we commend your unwavering stance against neocolonialism and neo-imperialism,” Given Lubinda, Acting PF President, wrote to Mnangagwa.
“Your efforts in resisting the influence of external forces seeking to undermine the sovereignty of your nation are laudable,” the message read.
“Your steadfastness in denouncing puppetry and advocating for self-determination is an inspiration to many who value independence and the right to make autonomous decisions,” Lubinda lauded Mnangagwa.
PF lost power to UPND.
Mumba has hit back at his critics.
He singled out M’membe, accusing of “lying” that anyone who does not agree with him on an exclusively socialist agenda should be labeled as “puppets and agents of western imperialism” and Hichilema was installed by agents of western interests.
“Instead, it is M’membe who is a stooge and a puppet of Communist ideas and ideologies,” Mumba charged.
Mumba reignited the spate with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
“Africa must never start to think that being a liberation movement or a Pan African movement means subverting the will of the people through election manipulation. This is backward thinking..,.” he said.
Mumba and the observer team have also contended with attacks from the ruling party in Zimbabwe.
The United States (US) denounced such.
“Furthermore, threats directed against members of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission are dangerous, and we call upon the government of Zimbabwe to cease these inflammatory and unacceptable attacks,” said Matthew Miller, US Department of State spokesperson.
The United States is globally widely known for thriving in conflicts, disharmony and divisions of targeted ‘prey’ where people, nations or regions are strongly united in order to weaken their fibre which brings them together.
– CAJ News