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Zambia Seeks SADC and AU Intervention in Diplomatic Dispute with Zimbabwe

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa
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LUSAKA, Zambia – The Zambian government has officially appealed to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) for assistance in resolving an escalating diplomatic dispute with neighbouring Zimbabwe.

This appeal comes in the wake of comments made by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa during a recent visit to Russia, which Zambia’s Foreign Minister, Mulambo Haimbe, has characterized as a significant affront to Zambia’s national sovereignty.

During a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Mnangagwa accused the United States of utilizing Zambia as a strategic tool to isolate Zimbabwe within the region. Mnangagwa’s comments have sparked considerable concern and debate in Zambia, with the government viewing these remarks as an unfounded and serious allegation against its foreign policy and international alliances.

Foreign Minister Haimbe addressed the issue before the Zambian Parliament today, emphasizing the need for immediate and decisive action from regional bodies to address what he termed an “unwarranted attack on Zambia’s sovereignty.” Haimbe stated that Zambia expects both the SADC and the AU to facilitate a thorough and conclusive resolution to the diplomatic rift. He expressed confidence that these organizations, which are integral to regional stability and cooperation, would take the necessary steps to mediate the dispute effectively.

“The statements made by President Mnangagwa are not only baseless but also damaging to the spirit of unity and mutual respect that underpins our regional cooperation,” Haimbe remarked. “We call upon SADC and the AU to address this matter decisively and conclusively to preserve the integrity of our regional partnerships.”

The root of the dispute traces back to Mnangagwa’s assertions regarding the presence of a United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) office in Lusaka. Mnangagwa suggested that this military cooperation could pose a security threat to Zimbabwe and the broader region. This claim was met with swift rebuttal from Zambian officials, who argue that AFRICOM’s presence is intended to bolster security and stability, rather than undermine it.

Haimbe, in his parliamentary address, clarified that the AFRICOM office in Lusaka is part of a broader initiative to enhance regional security cooperation and capacity-building. He stressed that Zambia’s collaboration with the United States is transparent and should not be misconstrued as an act of regional destabilization.

“The AFRICOM office is aimed at strengthening our security infrastructure and fostering greater cooperation in combating transnational threats,” Haimbe explained. “It should not be viewed as a security risk but rather as a testament to our commitment to regional peace and stability.”

The parliamentary debate highlighted the urgency and sensitivity of the situation, with several members calling for calm and constructive dialogue between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lawmakers emphasized the importance of maintaining strong bilateral relations and the need for diplomatic channels to remain open.

The appeal to SADC and the AU signifies Zambia’s desire for a collective regional approach to conflict resolution, reflecting a commitment to the principles of solidarity and mutual respect. Both organizations have a mandate to facilitate peace and security among member states, and their involvement is seen as crucial to de-escalating tensions.

As the diplomatic community closely watches this unfolding situation, the resolution of this dispute will likely serve as a critical test of regional cooperation mechanisms in Southern Africa. The outcomes of the interventions by SADC and the AU could set significant precedents for how such disputes are managed in the future.

Zambia’s proactive stance in seeking multilateral mediation underscores its dedication to preserving regional harmony and its unwavering commitment to its sovereignty. The nation now awaits the response of its regional partners in navigating this complex diplomatic terrain.