By Staff Reporter
EARLIER this month opposition MDC Alliance principal Tendai Biti fled to Zambia where he sought political asylum in the deadly aftermath of the July 30 elections.
However, in dramatic events widely condemned in Western capitals, Zambian authorities surprised by rejected Biti’s asylum application saying his reasons “did not have merit”.
A Zambian political analyst based in South Africa has now suggested that the decision was likely payback by President Edgar Lungu for Biti’s interference in internal politics across Zimbabwe’s northern border.
“The main reason is political,” writes legal expert Professor Michelo Hansungule in article for Zambian media at the weekend (you can read article in full here).
“Tendai Biti and other members of opposition in Zimbabwe visited Hakainde Hichilema, Edgar Lungu’s nemesis, in the wake of his imprisonment in 2017 on trumped up charges of treason later withdrawn in humiliation.”
“Not only did Biti and his colleagues visit Hichilema to convalescence with him but Biti himself made statements bitterly criticizing Lungu’s decision to arrest Hichilema on trumped up charges but describing the Zambian legal system as dead as the Zimbabwean.
“Despite the expensive efforts to paint Edgar Lungu with the colour of a saint, in fact he is a vengeful man who believes in revenge.
“Tendai Biti is paying for being opposition member in his country and for exercising his fundamental right to freedom of expression on the Zambian soil.”
Zambian border guards handed Biti over to Zimbabwe despite a Lusaka high court order saying he should not be deported until his appeal for asylum was heard.
Biti, wanted by Harare over the violent post-election opposition protests had argued that his life was in danger after six people were killed and several others injured as soldiers fired at the demonstrators.
The government accuses him of stocking the opposition violence and also illegally announcing the results of the presidential elections.
He denies the charges and has since been freed on $5,000 bail.