ZANU-PF backs Mnangagwa’s remarks to Putin over US military assets in Zambia

Obert Mpofu
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HARARE – Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Obert Mpofu emphasized the importance of good neighbourliness while backing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s concerns about US military activities in Zambia.

“When your neighbour canoodles with the same person responsible for your plight, then it leaves you with no choice but to call them out for such unneighbourly conduct. In President Dr. E.D Mnangagwa, we are well-led,” Mpofu wrote in a pointed statement on his X social media platform

This statement comes on the heels of President Mnangagwa’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which Mnangagwa sought assistance for defense and food security. He expressed unease over increasing US influence in Zambia, alleging that the US is consolidating its power through enhanced security and financial aid, potentially isolating Zimbabwe.

“The United States is making us feel lonely,” Mnangagwa remarked, indicating a perceived encirclement by Western powers.

Since Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema took office, the US has notably strengthened its ties with Zambia, providing increased financial aid and security cooperation. The establishment of a US military base in Zambia has marked a significant shift in regional alliances. This closer relationship stands in stark contrast to the strained US-Zimbabwe relations, which are marred by ongoing sanctions and criticisms of Zimbabwe’s human rights record.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also influenced this diplomatic rift. Former Zambian Vice President Nevers Mumba, leading the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to Zimbabwe, issued a critical report on Zimbabwe’s recent elections. The report highlighted irregularities and questioned the legitimacy of Mnangagwa’s victory, further straining diplomatic relations.

Mnangagwa’s government dismissed the report as biased, accusing Mumba of overstepping his mandate. This disagreement has exacerbated tensions, with Zimbabwe perceiving SADC, and by extension Zambia, as influenced by Western powers.

Zimbabwe’s political landscape remains volatile, with Mnangagwa’s administration facing allegations of corruption, human rights abuses, and election rigging. The SADC report, combined with increasing pressure from Western nations, has sparked fears of an orchestrated regime change. Mnangagwa’s government views the US’s growing influence in Zambia and SADC’s critical stance as part of a broader strategy to undermine his rule.

Adding to the complexity, Mnangagwa’s support for former Zambian President Edgar Lungu has been contentious. Lungu, succeeded by Hichilema, was a close ally of Mnangagwa but faced accusations of authoritarianism and economic mismanagement. Hichilema’s administration has since focused on anti-corruption measures and economic reforms, distancing itself from Lungu’s legacy, which Mnangagwa sees as a threat to the regional status quo and his political survival.

Mnangagwa’s appeal to Putin for support in defense and food security underscores Zimbabwe’s precarious situation. Facing economic instability, food shortages, and an underfunded military, Zimbabwe seeks Russia’s assistance to bolster its resilience against perceived external threats. The request for defense support highlights Zimbabwe’s isolation within the region, with Zambia receiving increased security support from the US.

Under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Hakainde Hichilema, diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and Zambia have grown increasingly strained. Mnangagwa’s appeal to Russia, accusations against the US, and support for former Zambian President Edgar Lungu reflect a broader geopolitical struggle in Southern Africa.

As the US consolidates its influence in Zambia, Zimbabwe finds itself turning to Russia for support. The future of Zimbabwe-Zambia relations will hinge on the evolving dynamics of international alliances, regional politics, and internal developments within both countries.