Zambia-Zimbabwe tensions boil over as Hichilema reports Mnangagwa to SADC and AU

File Pic: His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa with his Zambian counterpart President Hakainde Hichilema

Tensions flare as Zambia accuses Zimbabwe of attacking its sovereignty

In a concerning escalation of diplomatic tensions between the two neighboring countries, Zambia has accused Zimbabwe of launching an unwarranted attack on its sovereignty. The dispute, which has been simmering for some time, took a turn for the worse earlier this month following the release of a video depicting Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa voicing his grievances against Zambia’s relationship with Western powers.

The video, recorded during President Mnangagwa’s attendance at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, shows him appealing to Russian leader Vladimir Putin for support “especially in the area of defence and security as well as food security.” In the footage, the Zimbabwean president accuses the United States of developing military and economic ties with Zambia as a means of isolating Zimbabwe.

Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mulambo Haimbe, addressed the nation’s Parliament on Thursday, expressing the government’s grave concern over President Mnangagwa’s remarks. Haimbe stated that Lusaka had “verified the veracity of the video through diplomatic channels” and considers the statements to be “an unwarranted attack on Zambia’s sovereignty.”

The Zambian minister further declared that the government has sought the urgent intervention of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to “find a lasting solution to the matters in issue through an appropriate mediation process.”

The diplomatic row between the two countries has been simmering for some time, with Zimbabwe accusing its neighbor of sponsoring the local opposition since Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema assumed power in 2021. The tensions deepened following the disputed re-election of President Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe last year, which was criticized by a SADC observer mission headed by former Zambian Vice President Nevers Mumba.

As the two nations seek to find a resolution through regional bodies, the situation underscores the delicate nature of diplomatic relations within the Southern African region and the potential consequences of political tensions spilling over into international affairs.

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