SOUTH Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party has expressed its willingness to forge ties with two local opposition parties — MDC-T and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — to fight dictatorship, entrench democracy and the rule of law across Africa.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, said his opposition party could not afford to stand idle while democratic principles are trampled upon by autocratic regimes, adding the silence from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is unacceptable.
Maimane blasted the continued detention of Zambian opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema who faces treason charges for allegedly obstructing President Edgar Lungu’s convoy recently.
Zambian authorities accuse Hichilema of endangering Lungu’s life in the process.
“The DA is unequivocally committed to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. The persecution of Hichilema goes against these values, and as such we must stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for true democracy on the continent.
“The DA will re-establish South Africa’s leading voice on the continent for the entrenchment of democracy and the upholding of human rights on the continent, a role we surrendered after the Mandela presidency,” Maimane said on Thursday in a press release.
Maimane was barred from entering Zambia on Thursday night to attend the treason trial of Hichilema.
“In this light, I will be making contact with African leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti, in order to establish a plan of action on the way forward in entrenching democratic values and the rule of law in Africa. We must not cease in our efforts to liberate Africa from the stranglehold of “big man politics”. Indeed, opposition parties have a role in realising this through cooperation,” Maimane said.
Both MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume yesterday said their parties were ready work with the DA party to restore democracy in the sub-region.
“We identify with all those that are fighting for democracy, however, we have not had any formal discussion with the DA. While we agree with Maimane on the need to democratize our continent, we wish to state it clearly we have not had any formal discussion with them but we agree with his sentiments that right thinking political parties must fight the entrenchment of democracy within the continent. Africa is in need of a second liberation,” he said.
Mafume said: “We have reiterated that we will work with opposition parties within and outside Zimbabwe for the common good of the African child and Africa to fight all forms of oppression.”