from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ZAMBIA appears to have ruffled diplomatic ties with the United States after it handed over Zimbabwean opposition politician, Tendai Biti, to his country’s authorities in the face of a reported Zambian court order blocking his expulsion.
The US Department of State confirmed the government of Donald Trump was “reviewing certain aspects” of cooperation with Zambia following the Southern Africa country’s defiance of the court order.
The Department advises the president and represents the country in international affairs and foreign policy issues.
Heather Nauert, Department Spokesperson, said Zambia’s decision was “disheartening” given the courage Zambia showed in sheltering thousands of Zimbabwean freedom fighters from Rhodesian aggression in the days of the independence struggle.
“We will be discussing this matter with Zambia’s leaders and reviewing certain aspects of our cooperation with the Zambian government,” Nauert said.
Biti has been arrested and later releasedon bail for allegedly inciting public violence during the just-ended polls in Zimbabwe.
Biti had declared Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, won the poll ahead of incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The opposition claims the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) rigged the outcome.
The military killed at least six people in protests while a crackdown against opposition activists has ensued.
Nauert said the US was “gravely concerned” by “credible” reports of numerous detentions, beatings, and other abuses of Zimbabweans over the past week, particularly targeting opposition activists.
“There should be no role for violence, intimidation, or harassment in the new Zimbabwe,” she said.
Nauert said Mnangagwa’s government was now responsible for Biti’s safety and welfare.
“In Washington, the United States has convoked the ambassadors of both Zimbabwe and Zambia to register our gravest concerns.”
Biti, who was handed over to the Zimbabwean authorities appeared in court on Thursday before being released on a $5,000 bail (about R67,500).
– CAJ News