Man handled, his phone confiscated and threatened with arrest is how Mmusi Maimane’s visit to Zambia went yesterday.
He flew to Zambia to support the leader of the opposition in that country, Hakainde Hichilema, who is facing trumped up treason charges.
Six weeks ago, Zambian Police arrested Hichilema and charged him with treason whilst he was on route to a ceremony in the Western Province of Zambia. The initial “crime” he is alleged to have committed, is that he attempted to block Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade which was travelling on the same road.
Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
DA national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said that Maimane had arrived in Lusaka on Africa Day to attend Hichilema’s trial on Friday and to “show support to Mr Hichilema, who is being unduly persecuted by his government, and to show the DA’s commitment to a human-rights based foreign policy”.
She said Zambian Police had aggressively confronted Maimane and had taken his phone.
“The South Africa government has the right and the duty to issue a démarche, or diplomatic order, and we expect that they will do so.
“We intend calling in the Zambian High Commissioner to come and explain this whole thing to us,” Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations, said on Thursday night.
The eyes of the world are watching now.