“A country with an angry leader who orders arrests of opponents can’t be a democracy”.
President Jacob Zuma was speaking on the sidelines of the World trade conference at the South African, Indian ocean port city of Durban on Friday.
Zuma’s statement is being viewed as an indictment, on the embattled Zambian strong man Edgar Lungu, over the political persecution and imprisonment of his main political rival Hakainde Hichilema.
The statement further gives a microscopic view, of the behind the scenes bashing of Lungu by regional leaders, over his despotic rule and high handedness in the running of a country, many former political fugitives of the sub region, regarded as their home.
Zuma’s view may also be a confirmation of the South Africa’s increasing uneasiness and frustration on the insecurity of its region’s biggest trading partner.
South African markets have investments in billions of dollars in the Southern African state, while its national air carrier South African Airways, flies to Zambian destinations almost a 100 times a week, the highest in the region and perhaps in Africa.
South Africa fears that if Zambia’s stability is not restored in the shortest possible time, it’s multi billion investments that include huge mining interests that have been built over the years, maybe in serious jeopardy.
Mr Zuma’s hard hitting statement, appears to be in a rare collaboration with those of his fierce local political rivals and harshest critics, Mmussi Maimane and Julias Malema, of the DA and EFF respectively.
President Zuma’s Durban statement appears to be dismissive of Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front’s claims, that the ANC supports the suppressive handling of the incarcerated opposition leader by the Zambian leader.
Two weeks ago the Patriotic Front hosted the ANC’s youth league members, who they lavishly paraded around conference centres and hotels, with claims of approval of Zuma’s party, over the imprisonment of Hakainde Hichilema.