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Mnangagwa Says USA Funding Security Sector in Zambia to Spite Zimbabwe

Russian leader Vladmir Putin and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Russian leader Vladmir Putin and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has caused a possible diplomatic row with Zambia and Malawi after telling Russian leader Vladmir Putin that the United States is financing heavily in the security sector in these two nations in order to isolate Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa was captured in a video telling Putin in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of an investment summit that he is looking for strong support from Russians as Americans, Britons and others have dumped Zimbabwe.

He said, “We are anxious to have more comprehensive and concentrated relations between ourselves. Yes, we are a very advanced country; but there is a lot that we can learn from you and there is a lot that will benefit from that relationship. And there is a lot that we can open for the Russian Federation to participate in our economy, especially in the mining sector and agriculture. There is a lot that we can afford for you to participate.

“And in that process, the West will run away. You see, the West has just begun consolidating its power in Zambia, our next neighbour. You know, there was a time when Zambia and Zimbabwe were one; it was called Northern and Southern Rhodesia. It was made one by the British, but they are now separate. And the Americans are consolidating their power in that country, both in terms of security and in terms of financial support to Zambia to make sure that we feel lonely.”

Mnangagwa said despite the USA’s move to back Zambia and Malawi, Zimbabwe won’t give up in strengthening relations with Russia.

“…But that will not change us, because we have taken a course as a people that we feel we want to be independent and we will choose our friends ourselves. And besides, we are independent today because most of us in the leadership trained here during our war of liberation. We got our independence because we are supported by yourselves here, and we don’t forget that history, and you don’t forget about us,” he said.

Mnangagwa further noted that Zimbabwe and Russia were facing similar problems, especially targeted sanctions imposed by the West on the two nations for alleged election rigging and human rights violations.

Zambian authorities played down Mnangagwa’s outburst saying his remarks were “unfortunate”.

The USA has not yet reacted to the Zimbabwean president's comments.

Zimbabwe and Zambia had cordial relations during the war of liberation of the 1960s but this changed when Hakainde Hichilema defeated Edgar Lungu in the 2021 presidential election. The Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and its military wing, Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) were based in Zambia during the war of liberation when the country was led by the late Kenneth Kaunda.