Zambia Threatens International Action Over Alleged Zimbabwe Meddling

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zambia has issued a stern warning, threatening to involve international and regional bodies in a dispute with Zimbabwe over alleged plots to harm its President, Hakainde Hichilema. The escalating tensions have raised concerns about the stability of relations between these neighboring nations.

Zambia’s Copperbelt provincial minister, Elisha Matambo, declared on Friday that his government would petition key organizations, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN), to investigate threats on President Hichilema’s life. Matambo asserted that Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party was collaborating with elements of Zambia’s opposition to destabilize the country and potentially assassinate Hichilema, who was democratically elected in August 2021.

One critical point of contention was statements attributed to Zanu-PF’s secretary for finance, Patrick Chinamasa, who allegedly confessed to involvement in the 2008 death of Zambia’s former president, Levy Mwanawasa, and was now linked to threats against Hichilema. Additionally, Rutendo Matinyanyire, a Zimbabwean national arrested in Zambia for alleged incitement of violence, was implicated in the alleged plot. Matambo stated that he had received petitions from concerned citizens regarding these threats and would forward them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for submission to SADC, the AU, and the UN.

These developments unfolded as protesters gathered to demonstrate against what they perceive as Zimbabwe’s interference in Zambia’s internal affairs. The protesters marched to the Zimbabwean consulate in Ndola, where they delivered a petition demanding that Zimbabwe respect Zambia’s sovereignty and cease meddling in its politics.

Zimbabwe has not officially responded to these allegations. Zanu-PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa redirected inquiries to Patrick Chinamasa, who has been unavailable for comment. Relations between the two nations have been strained since President Hichilema appointed former Zambian vice-president Nevers Mumba to lead the SADC observer mission for Zimbabwe’s elections in July 2021. The mission released a critical report indicating that Zimbabwe’s elections did not meet regional and international democratic standards. In response, officials in Harare launched a campaign to discredit Hichilema and Mumba, labeling them as “Western puppets.”

Zimbabwe and Zambia share a long history of friendship and cooperation, dating back to their colonial days when they were known as Southern and Northern Rhodesia, respectively. Both countries are members of SADC, a regional bloc dedicated to promoting peace, security, and development in Southern Africa.

Analysts have urged the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia to address their differences through dialogue and diplomacy, rather than resorting to accusations and counter-accusations. Such tensions could potentially jeopardize their bilateral relations and regional stability.

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