from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia*
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – ALLEGATIONS by Zambia’s ruling party that its counterpart in Zimbabwe was planning to assassinate President Haikande Hichilema are the latest twist in the fallout between the two neighbouring counties in the wake of last month’s elections in the latter.
A war of words has ensued between the governing parties of the two Southern African nations since President Emmerson Mnangagwa was retained in power following elections that a Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission headed by Zambian, Nevers Mumba, denounced the elections in Zimbabwe as flawed.
Hichilema later snubbed the inauguration of Mnangagwa.
Harare has denounced the Zambian government as puppets of the West, mainly the United States, evoking memories of the late 2000s when Zambia, under Levy Mwanawasa, was alongside the first leaders in the region to take the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) to task over human rights violations under the administration of founding president Robert Mugabe (now late).
This week, supporters of the governing United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia staged demonstrations in the third-largest city of Ndola, accusing their Zimbabwean counterpart of a plot to assassinate Hichilema over the SADC observer mission’s dismissal of the conduct of Zimbabwe’s election.
Polls were held on August 23 and 24, when incumbent Emmerson Mnagagwa was announced winner with over 52 percent of the election, ahead of Nelson Chamisa, of the Citizen’s Coalition for Change (CCC), who amassed 44 percent.
Chamisa is widely believed to be a very close ally for Hichilema.
Copperbelt-based supporters of the UPND took to the streets and held posters denouncing ZANU–PF Treasurer, Patrick Chinamasa, and the latter’s loyalist, Rutendo Matinyarare.
Elisha Matambo, the Copperbelt Minister, warned Zimbabwe’s ruling party to desist from an alleged plot to assassinate Hichilema.
“You take a step to touch President Hichilema, we will come for you,” Matambo declared.
He claimed Hichilema had survived 17 attempts on his life before the former opposition leader came to power in 2021.
The Zambian politician also made a startling allegation that the southern neighboring country was involved in the death of Mwananwasa.
Mwanawasa suffered a stroke and passed on in France in 2008 at the age of 59. Mumba was his deputy, then under the reign of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).
That was the same year Mwanawasa was among the first African leaders to speak out against Robert Mugabe, referring to the neighbouring country a “sinking Titanic” under the veteran leader, also now late.
Founding father of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, was also labeled a puppet when he criticized the Mugabe administration.
Comment could not be obtained from ZANU-PF, but Matinyarare laughed off the accusations.
“Is the Zambian government serious?” he quipped, rhetorically.
Differences between Zambia and Zimbabwe, separated by the Zambezi River, are over the apparent cosying up of Zambia to the West, who are accused of sabotaging Zimbabwe through economic sanctions after the latter’s land reforms that began in 2000.
Zambia, of late, has been accused of hosting military bases for the United States of America, something widely seen in Africa’s most peaceful regional bloc, the Southern Development Community (SADC) as posing serious security threats to the region’s member states.
– CAJ News