South Africa’s opposition demands action after leader deported from Zambia



South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), wants Zambia taken to task for barring and deporting its leader Mmusi Maimane from the country on Thursday evening.
Mr Maimane was blocked from entering Zambia at the Kenneth Kaunda Airport.
He had planned to attend the treason trial of Hakainde Hichilema scheduled on Friday at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court.
Mr Hichilema is the president of Zambia’s largest opposition party, the United Party for National Development, and faces treason charges for allegedly obstructing President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.
No reasons have been given by the Zambian authorities as to why Mr Maimane could not enter the country.
“We’ll call in the Zambian High Commissioner to come and explain this whole thing to us,” Clayson Monyela, South Africa’s Department of International Relations deputy director-general, said on Twitter Thursday.
Mr Maimane’s acting spokesperson Graham Charters said Zambian police boarded his flight at the airport and assaulted him.
“They stormed the plane. Then things got a bit physical when they tried to remove Mr Maimane from the plane.”
Mr Charters said the stalemate, between Mr Maimane and the police, lasted for about half an hour, while the DA leader demanded to know why he was not allowed into the country.
“He was then ordered to take the next flight back to South Africa,” he said.
“Democracy is something we all should fight for in our continent. What I experienced today in Zambia violates democracy,” Mr Maimane tweeted on Thursday night.
DA’s spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said the party leader intended to show solidarity with his Zambian counterpart “who is being unduly persecuted by his government”.
“It is a deeply shameful day for the Republic of Zambia, when a leader of the opposition from South Africa cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day. But we will not be deterred,” she said.
Mr Maimane is expected to address the media on Friday.

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