The government of Zambia has expressed concerns about alleged threats made against President Hakainde Hichilema. A Zambian minister said they will petition regional and international organizations like the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU), and United Nations (UN) to investigate the situation.
According to the Copperbelt Minister Elisha Matambo, Zambia’s opposition parties are supposedly working with Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party to potentially harm President Hichilema. Matambo claims ZANU-PF’s secretary of finance Patrick Chinamasa even admitted to involvement in the death of a previous Zambian leader, Levy Mwanawasa.
“I have received the petitions on the threats on the life of President Hichilema by Chinamasa and Rutendo Matinyanyire. I will deliver your petition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that it can be taken to Sadc, AU and UN. Chinamasa has confessed that he killed president Mwanawasa and is now planning to tamper with the life of President Hichilema,” Matambo said.
Supporters of Hichilema’s party have protested these alleged ties between Zimbabwean officials and Zambian opposition. They see it as an attempt to destabilize their country.
Tensions may stem from Hichilema’s role as the leader of SADC’s oversight of political security. As chair, he deployed an election observer mission to Zimbabwe led by former Zambian VP Nevers Mumba. Their subsequent report criticized last month’s Zimbabwean election.
Officials in Zimbabwe have since pushed back strongly against these claims from Zambia. With relations fraying, the conflict highlights ongoing political instability in the region that various organizations may need to further address.