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Zambian Leader 'Seeks Wisdom' From Mugabe in Harare Visit

Zambia's Patriotic Front's Edgar Lungu, right, when he was sworn in as president at an inauguration ceremony in Lusaka, Jan. 25, 2015.
Zambia's Patriotic Front's Edgar Lungu, right, when he was sworn in as president at an inauguration ceremony in Lusaka, Jan. 25, 2015.

Zambia’s newly elected leader, President Edgar Lungu, was in Harare Friday for bilateral talks with President Robert Mugabe.

President Lungu was welcomed at the Harare International Airport by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zambia’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Ndiyoyi Mutiti, senior officials from the Zimbabwean government and some members of staff from the Zambian Embassy in Harare.

Lungu, who's accompanied by his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda and Kaizer Zulu, the President’s Special Assistant for Political Affairs, was immediately whisked away to a local hotel before his meeting with Mr. Mugabe at State House.

Following their four-hour meeting, Mr. Lungu told journalists that he had come to seek wisdom from the Zimbabwean leader.

"Mr. Mugabe is the most senior leader in the region, so you'd come to seek wisdom from the elders, wouldn't you?," he said in response to questions as to why he was in Harare.

Mr. Lungu met Mr. Mugabe shortly before Zambian elections last month that ushered him into power.

The Zimbabwean leader was in Zambia just before the results of those elections were announced, triggering a demonstration from supporters of losing presidential candidate, Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development.

The two African leaders also met last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the African Union Heads of State and Governments’ summit where Mr. Mugabe assumed the chairmanship of the Pan African body.

Political analyst Takura Zhangazha says Mr. Lungu’s visit to Harare was not surprising because of the historical ties between Zambia’s Patriotic Front, once led by the late President Michael Sata, and Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party.

"It means President Mugabe and President Lungu are very close and that Mr. Mugabe is probably a mentor who advised him a lot on the elections," said Zhangazha.

Meanwhile, Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba told Studio 7 that the two presidents discussed bilateral issues with a special focus on trade between the two countries.

"Zambia and Zimbabwe are closely-knit and obviously we need to trade more than we are currently doing now," said Kalaba.

After meeting Mr. Mugabe, the Zambian president was escorted to the airport by Vice President Mnangagwa.

Mr. Lungu is expected to visit to Angola next week.

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