South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane has been denied entry at the Kenneth Kaunda International Lusaka Airport. Maimane who is leader of the Democratic Alliance in South Africa, arrived at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) with South Africa Airlink at 17:45hrs.
Immigration authorities advised Mr. Maimane to immediately return to South Africa as his presence was inimical to the rule of law in Zambia and would subject the judicial process to ridicule.
The authorities also said his presence would undermine the independence , integrity and standing of the Court.
Maimane has since returned to South Africa
The DA announced that its leader Mmusi Maimane would travel to Zambia and was going to to attend United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema’s court appearance due on Friday.
The DA also announced that it would rally the support of other regional opposition leaders to travel to Zambia to pressure the government of Zambia and the courts of law to release Mr. Hakainde Hichilema.
Below is DA’s fulll statement
South African Opposition Leader Maimane to Attend Hichilema Trial
Tomorrow, Friday 26 May 2017, Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the detained President of Zambia’s largest opposition party – the United Party for National Development (UPND) – in Lusaka, Zambia.
As we celebrate Africa Day, the leader of the opposition in Zambia faces trumped up criminal charges brought against him by a government intent on reversing the gains of democracy in Zambia and in Southern Africa.
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.
However, when the state prosecutors failed to substantiate that charge, they amended the charge and alleged that Hichilema and 60 others had conspired to declare Mr Hichilema the President of Zambia, and therefore charged him with treason. Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
The violent nature of his arrest, and the inhumane treatment that Hichilema has received in detention, confirms the political motives behind these charges. The arbitrary arrest of political opponents is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, which seek to systematically eliminate any potential threat to their rule. Hichilema has suffered injury in detention, and attempts we have made to visit him in prison have been blocked by the Zambian government. Even Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda was stopped from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison.
The circumstances which led to Hichilema’s arrest are an affront to democracy across the region, and point clearly to a political motivation. The South African government has maintained a deafening silence in this matter, despite our calls for President Zuma to intervene to stop this outrageous political trial. President Zuma and the ANC’s silence says much about their disregard for democratic values and principles on the continent.
The Democratic Alliance will not be silent. We will stand up for democracy and the rule of law on the African continent and we will be there in person to show our support for Mr. Hichilema. We also call on the Zambian government to drop these trumped up charges against the Leader of the Opposition, and release him from prison.
The ANC will be out of government in 2019. Authoritarian leaders in the region must know that South Africa’s post-ANC government will stand up for democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
The DA is unequivocally committed to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. The persecution of Mr. Hichilema goes against these values, and as such we must stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for true democracy on the continent.
In this light, the lack of action by regional bodies and other African nations is a great cause of concern. There has been not one word of condemnation by the South African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU).
This silence from the regional bodies responsible for fostering democracy and unity across Africa is unacceptable. We once again call on these bodies – and other African states committed to democracy – to condemn the actions of the Lungu administration.
The Democratic Alliance stands by Mr Hichilema and we offer him our full support, and will attend his trial tomorrow to demonstrate our support. We call on the Zambian government to stop this ludicrous trial.
The details of the trial are as follows:
Date: Friday, 26 May 2017
Location: Magistrate Court Complex, Hibiscus Rd, Lusaka, Zambia
Leader of the Democratic Alliance