The Socialist Party says President Edgar Lungu’s decision to initiate a process to recall Cuban Ambassador to Zambia Nelson Pages Vilas for attending its launch is a sign that he is a weak and insecure leader.

Meanwhile, NDC Secretary General Mwenya Musenge says Ambassador Vilas’ expulsion has sent a shiver in the diplomatic community.

In a statement issued by Socialist Party general secretary Dr Cosmas Musumali and presidential candidate Dr Fred M’membe, Monday, the duo also complained about the deportation of nine international guests who were invited to the party’s launch.

“President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has initiated a process to recall the Cuban Ambassador to Zambia. This is essentially an expulsion of this Cuban patriot out of Zambia. The Ambassador, comrade Nelson Pages, is accused of having breached diplomatic etiquette and therefore crossed a ‘red line’ by shortly attending the launch of the Socialist Party on the 31st March, 2018 in Lusaka and giving a congratulatory message. He was openly and arrogantly ridiculed by the Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Amos Chanda that the diplomat should have ‘known better’ that opposition political parties are a ‘no go area’ especially coming from Cuba! The expulsion of comrade Nelson is however not an isolated act by an insecure and desperate President,” they stated.

“Two days earlier, nine (9) international guests to the Launch of the socialist party were denied entry into Zambia. They were intercepted, interrogated, humiliated and impolitely sent away on subsequent flights out of the country. International protocol and traveling rights were blatantly breached.”

Musumali and M’membe stated that such behavior was sponsored by fear.

“This seemingly irrational behaviour of the President and his government over the launch of the Socialist Party is based on real fear. This is the fear of informed and political conscious Zambian masses, of a genuine revolutionary political formation with a credible leadership and that of international solidarity sympathetic to the plight of the people of Zambia. The Socialist Party and its leadership are bringing out all these elements. The Party is the symbol of hope and a new beginning for the suffering and disillusioned Zambia people. There is therefore a good reason for the panic exhibited by the President and his government. However, this panic mode is exposing serious faults and extreme levels of incompetency in the ability of the President to continue running this country,” they stated.

“The Socialist Party, on behalf of all progressive Zambian people, wishes to extend its apologies to comrade Nelson Pages and to the Cuban people. The decision by the president is not a true reflection of the aspirations of the Zambian masses. We are saddened and ashamed of this uniformed and opportunistic decision. Comrade Nelson is and will remain a true friend to the Socialist Party and Zambian people. Our victory in 2021 is assured and we look forward to receiving him back in the country. Similarly, we would like to convey our apologies to the nine comrades that were humiliated at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA). Their commitment to the spirit of Pan-Africanism and the working class struggle was manifested by their humility in the face of all the injustice they had to endure on Zambian soil.”

They bragged that they had received overwhelming congratulatory messages from the international community and political parties.

“Our comrade Benewende Sankara, President of the Sankarist Party of Burkina Faso, who was amongst those having been deported at KKIA, is back in his country and sent us the following text message: ‘I mark my unwavering support for the comrades of Zambia and all people in the struggle. My moral remains high and I know victory will eventually triumph over undemocratic and anti-social forces.’ As of 10:30 hours today, the socialist party has received 79 international congratulatory messages from political parties, trade unions and popular movements of 32 countries. The messages highlight the significance of the Launch of the Socialist Party in Zambia but also condemn the behaviour of President Lungu and his government,” stated Musumali and M’membe.

And in a separate statement, Musenge stated that President Lungu had created a diplomatic blunder by expelling Ambassador Vilas.

“In our view, there is nothing wrong with Mr Vilas attending the launch of the socialist party. Governments the world over recognise and create ties with groupings that they view as progressive. The island nation of Cuba supports socialism and there is nothing wrong with that country to give solidarity to comrade’s in another country who espouse and support the promotion of socialism as a means and form of political authority. As NDC, we feel that President Lungu has created a diplomatic bluff by expelling Mr. Villa’s. The decision was not only ill timed but equally ill advised. The ejection of the Cuban ambassador was done out of spite and to possibly send shivers to the diplomatic community,” stated Musenge.

“This diplomatic blunder has put Zambia in the spotlight. There is something sinister that Mr. Lungu is trying to hide. We know for a fact that the diplomatic community has been closely monitoring the political happenings in this country. It is a proven fact that Zambia is drifting into totalitarianism looking at current political happenings.”