ZIMBABWE’S bid to mend relations with Zambia has faced a further setback after Zanu PF treasurer-general Patrick Chinamasa hurled more insults at the neighbouring country’s President Hakainde Hichilema and head of the Sadc Election Observer Mission Nevers Mumba.
However, the Zambian leader says he will maintain a peaceful course. Zimbabwe’s leaders have been on a warpath against Hichilema and his government over the damning Sadc report which rejected the outcome of the shambolic recently held polls.
In shocking remarks this week, Chinamasa piled more insults on Hichilema and Mumba, a former Zambian vice-president, who led the Southern Africa Development Community Election Observer Mission (SEOM), which for the first time raised gross irregularities in Zimbabwe’s polls.
“Reverend Dr. Nevers Sikwila Mumba. Who is this man? People who don’t know him were caught completely by surprise by his pronouncements as Head of SEOM (Sadc Electoral Observation Mission), purportedly on behalf of the Sadc team,” Chinamasa said on his official X account.
“So unilateral, wayward, unprecedented, and unheard of, blatantly biased, uncouth, unSadc-like, unashamedly reading from a pro- Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) script, outdoing the sanctions-imposing countries in his condemnation of Zimbabwe and governance systems. Personally, I was the least surprised.”
Added Chinamasa: “I berate myself for lacking the courage to publicly object to Mumba’s appointment as Head of SEOM. I felt then that it was not prudent to cause unnecessary controversy that would mar the smooth management of our Harmonised Elections. I decided to take the path that would not rock the boat.”
Giving reference to former Zambian president Levi Mwanawasa, Chinamasa said Hichilema would live to regret the regime change agenda which he said President Hichilema was pushing in appointing Mumba as head of the SEOM.
“Like Mwanawasa before him, he will not succeed in his evil intent. He does not know what mettle Zimbabweans are made of. Mumba is a complete disgrace and an embarrassment to the region and the African Continent as a whole,” Chinamasa said.
“It was very unwise and unpolitic for President Hichilema as Head of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security to appoint Mumba, a lackey of imperialism and neocolonialism with a known regime change background (against Zanu PF), to come and observe Zimbabwe’s Harmonised Elections. “President Hichilema did, wittingly or unwittingly through Mumba’s appointment, stoke the fires of Western-inspired regime change in Zimbabwe and will live to regret it.”
Added Chinamasa: “Mwanawasa suffered a stroke, and that put an end to the regime change agenda as a SADC-initiated project at the behest of Tony Blair. Rev. Nevers Mumba is making a spirited attempt to take the regime change agenda from where Mwanawasa left it.”
His remarks, construed to be death threats on Hichilema, have sparked protests in Zambia, widening the diplomatic chasm that has been growing since he toppled Zanu PF ally Edgar Lungu in an unusual electoral feat that has inspired opposition parties to notch surprise wins in the region.
Mwanawasa’s death has been a raw nerve and subject to debate since 2008 amid suspicion of foul play.
This week, Elisha Matambo, the minister of Zambia’s Copperbelt province, said his government would petition international and regional bodies to look into the threats on Hichilema’s life.
“I was thinking it was a lie, so I went to social media to see if these people really killed President Mwanawasa and if they were now coming for President Hichilema. And for sure, I found that. That is why I have agreed to come so that you receive the petitions. I have received the petitions to deal with the threats on the life of President Hakainde Hichilema,” Matamba said as he addressed ruling party supporters who presented him with a petition to deliver to Zambia’s foreign ministry to complain about the conduct of Zimbabwe’s leaders.
“I have also read that they have agreed to killing President Mwanawasa! So you have asked me to take the petition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that the petition can go to SADC, AU and UN. I will take the petition so this petition to AU, SADC and UN. If someone agrees that they killed another country’s leader, now they are trying to kill a sitting president, we cannot sit and watch.”
In the Zambian Parliament this week, Hichilema said Zambia will maintain its founding father Kenneth Kaunda’s pacifist foreign policy as it does not want conflict with anyone. He also reminded the region that some leaders from a neighbouring country are now insulting Zambians yet they were once refugees in Zambia.
“We are not desirous of being part of conflict in our region. We as citizens must not encourage other countries in the region to pick fights with Zambia. You are doing the wrong. You want to bring trouble to your fellow citizen and to yourself,” Hichilema said.
“This country does not want violence. We have a track record. We walk Kenneth Kaunda’s [KK] path, and will work hard to maintain that integrity KK set for us. We are the housing for refugees. All our neighbours, some of whom have become presidents, were housed here. Our credentials are clear.”
Zambia has been Zimbabwe’s strategic ally since the liberation struggle, enabling Zimbabwean liberation movements, namely the Zapu and Zanu to use its territory for the training of freedom fighters.
The country also provided refuge to Zimbabwean nationalists, and a considerable number of high-profile Zanu and Zapu nationalists, including President Mnangagwa.
Chinamasa said that before Mwanawasa’s death from a stroke, he was cheered on by “sanctions-imposing countries” and had become very hostile towards Zimbabwe and Zanu PF and had allegedly agreed to a Tony Blair proposal to use Zambia as a base for the British military forces to launch an invasion on Zimbabwe.
He said Mwanawasa demonstrated aggression towards Zimbabwe after he invited to Zambia the then leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, at the height of post-election instability.
This was also at a time when Sadc leaders were heavily criticised for their silence on Zimbabwe’s disputed poll. However, in April 2008, Mwanawasa had called for an emergency Sadc summit in Lusaka Zambia, to find a solution to Zimbabwe’s political crisis that had been caused by the violent 2008 election.
Mugabe stayed away. Tsvangirai attended, but did not join the Sadc leaders for the closed-door meetings as he was not a head of state.
While Mugabe did not directly state reasons for snubbing the meeting in 2008 ahead of the bloody election run-off, Chinamasa this week said Mugabe was protesting Tsvangirai’s invitation to the meeting.
“As Zimbabwe, we objected to the attendance of an opposition leader at a Summit of Heads of State. Our objection fell on deaf ears,” said Chinamasa.
“President Mugabe decided to boycott the Summit and instead dispatched a four-Minister delegation to the Sadc Lusaka Heads of States Summit to engage Mwanawasa and dissuade him from the path to plunge Zimbabwe and the region into an Armageddon.”
He added: “Mwanawasa’s venom and hostility were evident and palpable, but in the early hours of Sunday, while not yielding his ground, Mwanawasa was purely out of respect for Cde Mnangagwa, beginning to treat the delegation with a modicum of civility.”
As previously reported by The NewsHawks, since Hichilema came to power the Zimbabwean intelligence has been working hard to establish the nature of his relations with Chamisa and whether it involves financial support.
“Their worry is on various fronts: diplomatic, political and geopolitical,” an intelligence source told The NewsHawks.