Samuel Kadungure in LUSAKA, Zambia
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday met his Zambian counterpart President Edgar Lungu at State House here before he paid homage to the country’s founding father Dr Kenneth Kaunda at his residence in Lusaka.
President Mnangagwa visited Embassy Park, a memorial park housing graves of former Zambian presidents — Messrs Michael Sata, Levy Mwanawasa and Fredrick Chiluba.
Messrs Sata and Mwanawasa were sitting presidents when they died in 2014 and 2008, respectively, while Mr Chiluba died in 2011 when he had retired. The President laid wreaths on the trio’s graves in honour of the role they played in consolidating democracy in Africa.
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe and Zambia were like Siamese twins. Zimbabwe, he said, will always remain grateful to Zambia for its support during the liberation struggle.
President Mnangagwa briefed President Lungu and Dr Kaunda on the political situation in Zimbabwe following former President Robert Mugabe’s resignation in November last year.
President Mnangagwa, who is touring the region to apprise other leaders on political developments in Zimbabwe, assured Dr Kaunda that former President Mugabe was safe and his legacy would be preserved.
President Lungu, who — just like his Zimbabwean counterpart — is a law graduate from the University of Zambia, congratulated President Mnangagwa on his ascension to the Presidency and pledged his country’s unwavering support.
He expressed optimism in President Mnangagwa’s ability to pull Zimbabwe out of the current economic challenges.
“Three graduates from the school of law who are Presidents,” said President Lungu in reference to President Mnangagwa, former Zambian President Mwanawasa and himself, who all read law at the University of Zambia.
“It’s a historic achievement. People might see it from a different angle, but for us it’s a historic achievement. The good thing is we are ruling so well.”
President Mnangagwa did his law degree at the University of Zambia from 1973 to 1974.
In 1975, he did his post-graduate LLB degree, including another programme in Advocacy at the same university. President Mnangagwa took the opportunity to chronicle his stay in Zambia, and revealed that he was an ardent follower of Dr Kaunda.
“In 1959, UNIP was formed and I was at a technical college here, and we were recruited as students,” he said. “Then, we were ardent followers of Dr Kaunda, though we made a few mistakes and we were expelled. At that time, we learnt a lot from him (Dr Kaunda). After expulsion, I then joined UNIP, and when I am here, am back home with my iconic political leader.”
President Mnangagwa explained how the Youth Interface Rallies, which were held at the behest of the Zanu-PF Youth League, were used as a platform to denigrate him before his expulsion from Government and the ruling party.
He explained the tortuous journey he took to Mozambique and South Africa soon after his expulsion, and the events that led to his ascendancy to being the President of Zimbabwe.
The visit to Zambia accorded President Mnangagwa an opportunity to reminisce with former classmates from the University of Zambia. President Mnangagwa’s regional tour has since taken him to South Africa, where he met President Jacob Zuma, the current chairperson of Sadc.
The President has visited Angola and met his counterpart Cde Jao Manuel Goncalves Laurenco, who chairs the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security; Namibia, where he met President Hage Geingob; and Mozambique, where he met President Fillipe Nyusi.
He is scheduled to visit Botswana where he will meet President Ian Khama.
The Head of State of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces continues to reiterate that Zimbabwe is ready for business and is willing to work with diverse partners in rebuilding the economy and creating cordial relations with the international community.