In this audio, South African leader of opposition Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane explains to BBC how he was assaulted by Zambia police at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, given a new boarding pass whilst still on the plane and ordered to fly back to his country.
And Maimane says yesterday was a low point for Africa because it was clear that dictators are rising.
Maimane also explains that his phone was confiscated and he could not seek legal help.
“First of all, what the Zambian officials did today flouts all international rules. Men and the police walked in, shit down the plane,insisted that every passenger produces their passports. They then came to me and instructed me that they would deny me entry into Zambia. i asked the question ‘on what basis?’ but they insisted that they would not allow me entry into Zambia, they would not allow me any reasons, simply i could not get out. Then they insisted that they confiscate all forms of communication from me, they took away my phone, they took away my ipad and I could not find any legal services while this was going on and ultimately, they said to me that they would detain me on the plane,” Maimane told BBC focus on Africa yesterday.
“They issued me a new boarding pass which means that the decision was already made, whether I wanted to go to a magistrate or not whether i wanted to appeal the decision, a violation of international law, they simply said ‘here is your boarding pass, you are not getting off this thing. They started to push me, they started to assault me and the gentleman who couldn’t give me back my phone and then eventually we had to concede that we couldn’t get in touch with any legal team all because we were there to give solidarity to another leader.”
Maimane also says he will go to Zambia’s High Commission to South Africa today to take further action.
Take a listen:
Maimane also told SABC that the pilot had to intervene to stop the police from assaulting him and his crew.
“It is our right to stand in solidarity with him. Why are we being denied that right? This is the sort of practice that cannot be allowed on our continent and when we reflect on Africa Day, we must remind ourselves that it is easy for democracy to be captured by dictators and I believe that the government of Zambia has acted in a manner, firstly in arresting HH in the manner that is unlawful and that is why we need to stand in solidarity with him and we will be demanding the government of South Africa to send a strong demand to the government of Zambia to demand an explanation and I would like to know what basis they denied me entry into Zambia, nobody has been able to tell me,” said Maimane.
“It is a clear indicator that democracy is very fragile. We must protect the rule of law, we must protect the Constitution. When a President can act beyond the rules of the law and a government can flout international law, it is a quick way of undermining democracy. And we feel, I personally fee that today was a low point for the continent because it reminds us that dictators are rising up, they break the law and ultimately, how can we say that we celebrate Africa Day when others can be sent away without any reason? The President is just an individual, he is not above the law and when citizens choose to stand up against the President, they have the right to do so.”
Meanwhile, UPND national chairperson Mutale Nalumango has described the incident as an international scandal.
“It’s high time the PF spared us this drama that now borders on international relations of a very important neighbour. Mr Maimane is an MP of the South African Parliament and the leader of the biggest opposition party in South Africa and is therefore accorded the status, privileges and protocols similar to that of Government Minister of the Republic of South Africa. It goes without saying that he also enjoys diplomatic protocols in line with his duties as a legislative member of Government which include a diplomatic passport,” said Nalumango in a statement.
“To deny entry of Mr Maimane into Zambia breaches the Geneva convention which governs and outlines the processes of diplomatic activities of member states. We believe this is an international scandal of great magnitude and an embarrassment to the people of Zambia and we as UPND demand an immediate explanation from the Ministry of Home Affairs.”
Meanwhile, the Patriotic Front claims “sources close to the treason trial” told them that Maimane was lucky he was deported because he would have been cited for contempt.
“The immigration have done him a favour. He was going to face contempt charges in the morning. We were going to apply that his passport be withheld until such a time that the contempt charges were disposed off. His consistent comments that ‘we want to pressure the Courts to release Hakainde Hichilema’ is highly contemptuous. Our Courts can not be pressured even by the President. The State had already applied for contempt. He wasn’t going to leave Zambia for a longtime.” A source close to the treason trial said,” the PF quoted a sources from the state prosecution team in a statement circulated to the media.