SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has blocked debate in the National Assembly on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rant against neighbouring Zambia during a meeting with Russian leader Vladmir Putin.

Mnangagwa met Putin at Konstantino Palace for one-on-one talks ahead of the 27th St Petersburg International Economic Forum last week where he criticised Zambia’s relations with Western countries in what the Zimbabwean ruler’s aides said they believed was an off record briefing.

The Zanu PF leader told Putin that Zambia had become a regional security threat because of its close ties with the United States after it allegedly allowed the setting up of the US Africa Command in Lusaka.

Mnangagwa added that by doing so, Zambia had subtly accepted the West’s alleged machinations to isolate Zimbabwe from her neighbours.

He cited military relations between Washington and Lusaka as a cause for concern while pleading for defence and food security support from Putin.

Critics accused Mnangagwa of worsening Zimbabwe’s already sour relations with Zambia since he took office from the late President Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup.

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The matter spilled into Parliament on Tuesday, but Mudenda blocked debate on it saying foreign relations was a “no-go area” for the Legislature.

“Hon (Clifford) Hlatywayo, the area of foreign affairs in terms of bi-lateral or regional relations is a matter for the Executive to deal with at all times,” Mudenda said.

“I was saying this is a no-go area where you have issues that relate to bi-lateral or multi-lateral relations between or among States. Those are dealt with at the level of the Executive.

“So the chief of diplomacy of ether countries, the point of order, with its good intentions, I think it is misplaced.”

The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator had raised a point of national interest, saying Zimbabwe risked severing relations with her neighbours because of unchecked statements from the Executive.

Zanu PF supporters have been at pains to support Mnangagwa over his statement that has attracted scorn from critics and political analysts.

The ruling Zanu PF party on the other hand has been fighting in Mnangagwa’s corner, accusing Zambian leader Hakahinde Hichilema and the United States of openly supporting former opposition CCC party leader Nelson Chamisa.

In turn, Lusaka accuses Zanu PF of also supporting opposition parties in Zambia.

On Monday, the United States embassy in Harare issued a statement rubbishing claims that Washington is plotting to isolate Zimbabwe.

The US charge d’affaires in Harare, Elaine French, said contrary to Mnangagwa’s claims, her country was providing the highest bilateral assistance to Zimbabwe compared to other countries in the region.

French said her country had given more than US$5 billion aid to Harare since independence in 1980.

However, Zanu PF activists accuse Washington of using sanctions to punish its leaders and the country.