Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane was denied access into Zambia last night as he threatened to undermine the integrity of Zambia’s judiciary.
According to Zambian high commissioner Emmanuel Mwamba, the government was concerned about DA’s media statements to pressure the Courts of Law in releasing Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema.
During a meeting between department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) officials and Mwamba, it was stated that the matters regarding Hichilema were in court.
“It was imperative that the due process of the law was respected without undue pressure or interference. Mr Maimane alleged that Mr Hichilema was facing trumped up charges, and therefore he would mobilise fellow regional opposition sister parties and leaders to pressure the Zambian courts to release Mr Hichilema,” Mwamba said.
According to the Zambian high commission, Maimane was requested to delay his trip pending permission from the courts for his attendance.
Speaking outside the commission in Pretoria, Maimane said he confirmed with Zambian counterparts that his trip was to stand in solidarity with his friend, Hichilema.
“Why do I need court permission to attend a court proceeding of a personal friend? We told them [Zambia] that they have no right to bar us from Zambia. What law have I broken by going to support a fellow African?” Maimane said.
The DA leader travelled to Zambia last night to attend Hichilema’s treason trial.
Hichilema is the detained president of Zambia’s largest opposition party, United Party for National Development (UPND).
Maimane said his colleagues were manhandled on the runway at the Zambian airport while officials confiscated his cellphone and tablet. He was sent back to South Africa after being forcefully denied entry into Zambia.
Hichilema allegedly attempted to block Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade, which was travelling on the same road. The treason trial was scheduled for today at the Magistrate Court Complex in Lusaka, Zambia.
Meanwhile, a group of Zambian nationals held a picket outside the high commission, chanting for President Lungu. The group booed Maimane as he arrived.