Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has distanced himself from a report by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Head of Electoral Observation Mission in the just-ended elections, Dr. Nevers Sikwela, that alleged electoral irregularities in Zimbabwe.
Last Monday, President Hichilema sent his Foreign Affairs Minister, Stanley Kakubo, to the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This move was seen as a sign that he did not endorse the report’s findings.
The report, released just before the conclusion of the 2023 Harmonised General Elections, alleged widespread irregularities in the Zimbabwean elections, including voter intimidation and vote-buying. It also called for the formation of a unity government between President Mnangagwa and the opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa.
President Hichilema has not commented publicly on the report, but his actions suggest that he does not believe that Mumba’s report was accurate. By sending his Foreign Affairs Minister to the inauguration, he essentially endorsed President Mnangagwa’s victory.
According to political analyst Webster Mhizha, President Hichilema’s decision to distance himself from Mumba’s report was a strategic one for Hichilema.
“He is trying to avoid alienating Zimbabwe, which is a key trading partner for Zambia. He is also trying to maintain good relations with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has endorsed Mnangagwa’s victory. The decision to distance himself from Mumba’s report is also a blow to Chamisa. The report had been seen as a boost for his campaign, but Hichilema’s actions have undermined its credibility”, said Mhizha.
It remains to be seen what the long-term implications of this decision will be. However, it is clear that President Hichilema is taking a cautious approach to the issue of Zimbabwe. He is trying to avoid getting involved in a dispute that could damage Zambia’s relations with its neighbours.
Source – Byo24News