Zambia 'expels' South Africa's Mmusi Maimane

Court allows Zambian opposition leader to challenge prosecution over treason case

Zambia 'expels' South Africa's Mmusi Maimane

Johannesburg - DA leader Mmusi Maimane was deported to South Africa, for reasons unknown, when he landed in Zambia, his spokesperson Graham Charters said on Thursday night.

"They stormed the plane".

"On Tuesday, Mr Maimane's office got in touch with us and informed us that he will be travelling to Zambia on Thursday".

Charters said there was a stalemate between Maimane and authorities for about half an hour, while Maimane demanded to know why he was not allowed into the country.

The party said it has taken up the matter with the South Africa Ministry of International Relations, and expects them to dispatch diplomats to the airport. Thabo Mbeki, Pallo Jordan and much of the leadership-in-exile, spent years in Lusaka where South African journalists, including myself, used to regularly phone them for comment on the NP government's latest moves.

"He was not harmed but he was certainly shaken".

The DA leader had flown to Zambia to observe the trial of that country's opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who is facing treason charges.

Suspects on treason charges are not eligible for bail in Zambia, and could in theory be sentenced to death.

"This will not deter the DA from our objectives of fostering a culture of democracy and human rights in South Africa and in the region", Van Damme added.

Delivering ruling in the matter in which Hichilema and five others wanted the court to rule on whether they should be referred to the High Court for committal or constitutional issues yesterday, Magistrate Simusamba said if any proceedings in a subordinate court began, the Magistrate must refer the case to the High Court, unless the matter is not frivolous.

Zambia's High Commissioner, Emmanuel Mwamba, told News24 that Maimane's comments about Hichilema were problematic as he meant to mobilise Zambian opposition parties.

Africa day was meant to be a day that will mark the togetherness of Africans, but Mumsi Maimane, the DA leader was forcefully stopped from entering Zambia on the so-called Africa Day South Africa celebrated.

A Zambian court on Friday is expected to rule on whether to dismiss the treason charges against Hichilema, who was arrested in April after his motorcade allegedly blocked President Edgar Lungu's convoy on a road.

While he says his meeting with Mwamba proved to him his deportation was politically motivated, he's encouraged by some assurances he's received.

"I have no doubt these charges were manufactured by the Zambian government to intimidate those who are opposed to its oppressive rule, which is an abuse of power and a serious disregard of the rule of law".

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