Zimbabwe Moves To Block Zambian Opposition Leader - Reports
Zambia's opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilemba has reportedly been barred from entering Zimbabwe, where he was scheduled to address an opposition party congress led by former finance minister Tendai Biti.
The MDC Renewal Team, a breakaway party from the Movement for Democratic Change, accused President Robert Mugabe's government of "blocking" its choice of guest of honour at the party's inaugural congress set to begin on Thursday in Harare, New Zimbabwe.com reported.
"We had invited other social democrats from the region and Mr Hachilemba was supposed to be our guest of honour but, as has become the norm, president Mugabe's regime has thrown spanners in the works," party spokesperson Jacob Mafume was quoted as saying.
An official from Zimbabwe's foreign affairs ministry, however, dismissed the accusations, saying the ministry had no mandate to deny anyone entry into Zimbabwe, according to News Day.
"Foreign Affairs does not determine who comes into the country or not. It is the mandate of the department of immigration. We have no idea what they are talking about," the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Joey Bimha, reportedly said.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s younger brother, Moeletsi, who had been expected to attend the congress, also indicated he would not be able to attend the gathering "because he is committed elsewhere".
The congress comes two weeks after it was postponed by the police, who said at the time that the venue had already been booked by another group.
At least 7 000 delegates are expected to attend the event, which is to be held under the theme: "Reclaiming Zimbabwe".
The MDC Renewal Team was formed in April 2014, following its breakaway from the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. This was after a major fall-out in which members called for the removal of Tsvangirai as the leader on the basis that he was betraying the principles of the party and adopting Mugabe's style of monopolising the party for his benefit.