ZAMBIA wants the African Union (AU) and Sadc to intervene in its diplomatic row with Zimbabwe following President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s  “unwarranted attacks” on the country’s sovereignty.

In a recent meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Mnangagwa criticised Zambia’s relations with western countries particularly the United States.

He told Putin that Zambia was now a regional security threat pleading with Russia for support.

He accused Zambia of subtly accepting the West’s alleged machinations to isolate Zimbabwe from her neighbours.

Mngangagwa’s utterances have created tension between Zimbabwe and Zambia with the matter this week spilling into the latter’s Parliament.

In a ministerial statement, Zambia’s Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation minister Mulambo Haimbe expressed concern over Mnangagwa’s remarks saying his country sees the comments as an “unwarranted attack on Zambia’s sovereignty”.

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“It is in this context that we have sought the regional bodies’ urgent and immediate intervention in relation to the present and any other matters in seeming contention between Zimbabwe and ourselves,” he said.

Asked what diplomatic steps Zambia has taken to ease the tension, Haimbe said they had reached out to Sadc and the AU.

“We are part of a wider regional and continental family including Sadc and the AU to whom we have already reached out for an intervention,” he said.

Haimbe said Mnangagwa’s remarks had the effect of spoiling good relations between the two countries which began in pre-colonial times when Zambia provided assistance including military support to the  Zimbabwean liberation movement and allowed our “brothers and sisters in the struggle to operate from Zambia”.

“It is against this backdrop that I wish to state in no uncertain terms that this demonstrates our commitment to the pursuit of neighbourly and peaceful relations between the two nations.

He said Mnangagwa’s remarks were not in sync with the warm relations that existed, hence Lusaka’s quest to have this “matter decisively and conclusively addressed”.

Haimbe said Zambia and Russia have enjoyed good relations for over half-a-century and his country has no interest from moving away from its long-standing relations with Zimbabwe, Russia and western countries and will not pit one country against the other.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Zambia have been frosty after Harare accused Lusaka of trying to interfere with electoral processes following a damning report by the Sadc Election Observer Mission (SEOM) that the August 23 elections had failed to meet regional and international benchmarks on the holding of free and fair polls.

Ruling Zanu PF party official went into overdrive attacking the chair of SEOM, Nevers Mumba. The former Zambian VP was appointed to chair SEOM by Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema in his capacity as the Sadc Troika chair.

Zanu PF has been accusing Hichilema and the United States of also supporting former Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa.

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

Recently, the United States embassy denied Mnangagwa’s claims that Washington wanted to isolate Zimbabwe from its neighbours.

Haimbe said Zambia was, however, open to fostering and deepening relations “with like-minded, brotherly and sisterly nations.”

“Ours is to enhance economic diplomacy, peace, security and stability in the region and beyond for the mutual benefit of our collective citizens,” he said.

“However, notwithstanding, Zambia remains a sovereign State whose sovereignty must be respected and will be protected.”