PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s government has reportedly blocked Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilemba from coming into the country and address the local opposition MDC Renewal Team party’s inaugural congress in Harare this weekend.
The Tendai Biti-led party had invited Hichilemba, leader of Zambia’s United Party for National Development, and former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s younger brother, Moeletsi, as its guest speakers.
MDC Renewal Team’s incoming organising secretary Solomon Madzore told NewsDay yesterday that both Hachilemba and Moeletsi were no longer coming.
“Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed there is a complication with his (Hachilemba) invitation that they could not explain to us,” he said.
“We indicated that Hachilemba was coming as a delegate to our congress, but some became angry promising us also sorts of violence including disruption of the convention.”
Madzore said Mbeki cancelled due to his hectic schedule.
Contacted for comment, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha said the ministry “has no mandate to deny anyone entry into Zimbabwe”.
“Foreign Affairs does not determine who comes into the country or not. It is the mandate of the Department of Immigration. We have no idea what they are talking about,” Bimha said last night.
The opposition party’s three-day congress is being held under the theme: “Reclaiming Zimbabwe” with over 7 000 delegates expected to attend.
A statement issued by the party indicated that key highlights of the event would include the unveiling of economic and political blueprints, the party’s constitution and a new logo.
The party will change its name to the People’s Democratic Party.
“The blueprints Holistic Programme for Economic Transformation (HOPE), which is the economic blueprint, and Agenda for the Rehabilitation and Restoration of Electoral Sustainability (ARREST), the political plan, will be unveiled,” the party said in a statement.
“Our solution at the end of the day is to give the people of Zimbabwe a new narrative, a new paradigm because another Zimbabwe is possible and Zimbabwe will never be the same again.”
Biti is expected to be elected president of the new party.
He and former MDC-T deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma broke ranks with former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year, before the former Energy minister again walked out to form his own party, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe.