A DIPLOMATIC stand-off looms between Zimbabwe and her Northern neighbour, Zambia, amid street protests by ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) this Monday to register concern over death threats on President Hakainde Hichilema by Zanu PF functionaries in Harare.
The public demonstrations were reportedly held in Ndola, the country’s Copperbelt Province, where UPND supporters demanded answers from Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party on why it allegedly wants to “kill” Hichilema.
In recent days, there has been a deluge of criticism on Hichilema following his emissary, Nevers Mumba, who led a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Observers Mission (SEOM) that discredited Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections.
The SADC observer mission was chaired by Mumba, a former Zambian vice president, who was deployed by Hichilema, the SADC Troika chair.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba and the Information Ministry permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana, have been on the forefront of an onslaught on social media platforms name-calling Hichilema and Mumba.
Also, Zanu PF treasurer, Patrick Chinamasa and party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa spewed vitriol against Hichilema.
Chinamasa and party apologist Rutendo Matinyarare, who is linked to shadowy Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement, were targeted by the demonstrators as displayed on posters.
Zanu-PF candidate Mnangagwa scrapped a narrow 52,6% victory against opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa’s 44%, but the outcome has been challenged with opposition saying polls were rigged.
Joseph Kalimbwe, UPND spokesperson Monday shared a video of protesters wearing party regalia demonstrating against Zanu-PF.
“In my hometown, Ndola, our young people are today marching against Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu-PF individuals on their threats against our leader in Zambia,” Kalimbwe said.
Some protesters hoisted a large banner written: “We want to know why you want to kill President Hakainde Hichilema as alleged in your statement.”
Others held placards inscribed, “He is cleaning your mess but you keep ranting, shame on you.”
Responding to Kalimbwe on X, Matinyarare asked, “Kalimbwe on what basis are Zambians protesting against me and Honorable Chinamasa, saying that we want to kill Hichilema? When have we ever said we want to kill HH?
UPND accuses Patriotic Front member and former president Edgar Lungu, who ironically attended Mnangagwa’s hurried inauguration last week, of “instigating foreigners to harm HH.”
Hichilema is affectionately known as HH among his supporters.
Interestingly, Zambians on the streets also demanded to know circumstances leading to death of late president Levy Mwanawasa, who died of suspected heart failure after encountering late former president Robert Mugabe in the midst of another disputed presidential election result.
Mwanawasa was mediator in talks to thaw the impasse between Mugabe and his then archrival Morgan Tsvangirai.