Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who is also the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika, will not attend Zimbabwean President-Elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration.
The inauguration will be held at the National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare, with thousands of villagers bussed from across the country expected to be in attendance.
Hichilema’s acting presidential spokesperson Clayson Hamasaka on Monday confirmed to The NewsHawks that the Zambian leader is not coming to join other leaders for the event.
The Zambian President has also not congratulated Mnangagwa on his disputed victory in the 2023 Harmonised Elections.
Hichilema is reportedly a close ally of Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, who rejected the electoral outcome, alleging rigging.
The Zambian leader’s decision to snub Mnangagwa’s inauguration comes after the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) headed by Nevers Mumba, former Zambian vice-president appointed by Hichilema, questioned the credibility of Zimbabwe’s recent general elections.
Hichilema has sent his Foreign Affairs Minister, Stanley Kakubo to Harare to witness Mnangagwa’s inauguration.
The majority of SADC Heads of State have also avoided attending Mnangagwa’s inauguration in person and instead, sent representatives.
Reports suggest that only three SADC Heads of State and Government, out of a possible fourteen, will attend the ceremony in person.
Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi, and DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi will reportedly attend Mnangagwa’s official swearing-in ceremony.