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Zanu-PF, MDC Alliance outdo each other over who is closer to Hichilema

... it was Hichilema’s hug with Tendai Biti after the latter went to the podium at the National Heroes Stadium to congratulate the new president that got loud cheers.

ZIMBABWE’S ruling party Zanu-PF and its biggest rival back home, the MDC Alliance, put on a show in Lusaka as they battled to outdo each other on who was closer to Zambia’s new president.

Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s president, broke away from tradition to invite rival political parties from mainly Zimbabwe, SA, Tanzania and Botswana — because “they chose the hard path of supporting our UPND [United Party for National Development] struggles when others refused to associate with us in the opposition”.

Seemingly to set the record straight, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa told the state media that he had had a long telephone conversation with “HH”, and they are somewhat related as his Hichilema’s wife was from the same hometown.

“The president-elect phoned me. I realised that we are related. In fact, his wife Mutinta Hichilema and I grew up in the same town of Mumbwa, west of Lusaka,” said Mnangagwa.

Then MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Tendai Biti, before take-off, posted a video message about their trip to the inauguration.

“We are going to celebrate in Zambia and also tap into the anointing and make sure that it spreads across Southern Africa,” said Chamisa.

But it was Hichilema’s hug with Tendai Biti after the latter went to the podium at the National Heroes Stadium to congratulate the new president that got loud cheers.

Biti was followed by Mmusi Maimane, leader of One South African Movement, who later tweeted: “I am telling you. There’s a wind blowing across Sadc. Across Africa.”

Former Harare Mayor Ben Manyenyeni complained that while Zimbabweans were seized with their politicians trying to outdo each other infront of Zambians, the economy was on parking mode.

“Only Zimbabwe is debating such issues like who is closer to Hichilema. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean economy is parked!” Manyenyeni said curtly.

Photos of Chamisa walking on the red carpet went viral on social media platforms, with his supporters taking it to imply Chamisa was a recognized guest at the inauguration. That, however, was a basic fact considering that all invited guests who included Heads of State and opposition leaders walked the same red carpet.

On the other side, Zanu-PF supporters also widely shared photos or President Emmerson Mnangagwa congratulating Zambia’s new leader.

Meanwhile, speaking to journalists in Zambia, Chamisa said he was happy for Hichilema because they faced the same predicament from oppressive regimes. He said he still faces the same but he will overcome.

“I as leader of the alternative [in Zimbabwe] I have never appeared or been interviewed on state television. It’s a big issue but with that blackout we are still standing and very active. We are using community-based communication through our structures and social media. We try to reach out to people,” he said.

The Zambian state broadcaster offered to give Chamisa a platform if he was sidelined back home.

  • TimesLIVE (Additional reporting by HourlyHits)

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