Hakainde Hichilema Has Fallen Into ED, ZANU PF Trap, Says Zimbabwean Academic
United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean lawyer Brighton Mutebuka has ZANU PF and Zimbabwean government officials have launched a coordinated attack to undermine the head of the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) to Zimbabwe, Nevers Mumba and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.
Soon after the 23 August elections, the SEOM, headed by Mumba, published its Preliminary Report which was critical of the Zimbabwe elections.
In a post on X, Mutebuka said the campaign against Hichilema by ZANU PF is aimed at weakening his grip on power while reviving former president Edgar Lungu’s waning political fortunes.
The ZANU PF strategy, according to Mutebuka, is also aimed at weakening Hichilema’s political resolve to pursue the SEOM Report’s findings on the Zimbabwe elections as he battles domestic threats to his authority. He wrote:
The Politics Around Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mumba, HH, Edgar Lungu & @SADC_News SEOM Report
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a. For a few weeks now, ever since the SEOM Preliminary Report was published, there have been concerted efforts by ZANU PF & ED’s regime to attack, malign & otherwise undermine not just Dr Mumba but the Zambian President, @HHichilema himself as the appointing authority.
b. We have clearly seen what amounts to coordinated & sophisticated attacks on social media spaces, Zimbabwean state media platforms (including a documentary) and in Zambia itself.
c. We saw ED & his regime mischievously inviting Zambian ex-President Edgar Lungu to the non-inauguration which was clearly meant to spite @HHichilema.
d. We have seen the regime’s assets, colloquially referred to as “varakashi” embarking on a sustained disinformation campaign. Some of it has included rumour mongering – including one suggesting that a coup was a about to take place.
e. The high-stakes campaign would appear to be motivated by a desire to expose @HHichilema as a hypocrite when it comes to good governance & democracy (and sullying his reputation) & weaken his grip on political power while propping up & reinvigorating Lungu’s waning political career.
f. Much more importantly, such a strategy would work wonders in neutralising HH’s political resolve to pursue the SEOM Report’s findings on the Zimbabwe 2023 Elections via SADC Protocols by diverting his attention via orchestrating a domestic “front” using Lungu as their instrument to cultivate or foment social or political unrest.
g. The coup de grace for ZANU PF & ED would then involve HH retreating from pursuing the SEOM Report to attend to domestic matters, leaving @nelsonchamisa & @CCCZimbabwe defenestrated.
h. The strategy appears to have partly worked thus far, as what we have seen from news headlines, including international ones, as well as a cursory glance at @joseph_kalimbwe ‘s social media handle – HH appears to have been rattled, in line with what ED & ZANU PF had calculated.
i. This has seen them responding to Lungu’s recent contrived “provocations” & subterfuge, which have involved attempts at seeking treatment & engaging in diplomatic missions abroad as well as setting off on a “jog”.
j. Through his over-the-top/disproportionate response, @HHichilema appears to have fallen for the ruse. ED, ZANU PF, Lungu, PF & other domestic critics in Zambia will now claim that HH’s claims of being a democrat are all hollow or a charade on that basis.
k. ED & ZANU PF have also sought to paint HH as a puppet of the West, more in line with the characterisation that they are relentlessly trying to project on @nelsonchamisa, thus trying to fabricate the existence of an axis of patriotism on one side featuring them & their ally Lungu, & that of the puppetry tag featuring Chamisa & HH.
l. ED & ZANU PF have thus appeared to have succeeded in isolating HH in SADC & raising the political cost of intervening in the Zimbabwean political crisis on Chamisa’s behalf through fomenting “trouble” on his political turf & undermining his international credentials as a democrat abroad.
Mutebuka advised Hichilema to avoid falling into the trap set for him by ZANU PF in the way he responds to Lungu’s actions.
He said limiting Lungu’s freedoms, as the Zambian government has been doing of late, will actually strengthen his position as some people will view him as a victim of State-sanctioned persecution. Wrote Mutebuka:
HH would do well to exercise restraint in how he responds to what appears to be Edgar Lungu’s ZANU PF carefully orchestrated “provocations“.
Whilst it is clearly extremely difficult to resist the urge to “nibble” or respond, it is clearly the smarter thing to do.
That’s because political orthodoxy demands that state-led curtailments of the freedom of high-profile political figures necessarily generate equally high-profile negative political dividends for the regime while the high-profile political figure in question harvests political reinvigoration via perceptions of being a victim of state-sanctioned persecution.
This is particularly so if the figure in question is a recent direct political opponent for the office of Head of State.
As remarkable as it sounds, HH is likely to accrue more political mileage by ignoring Lungu’s shenanigans & focusing on delivering his own agenda.
More importantly, it is the right thing to do for Zambia and our region – via demonstrating that opposition leaders who assume power on the altar of ushering in a new era of democratic governance are able to walk that path.
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