TSHWANE Metro has granted a request for an EFF solidarity protest against the rise of dictatorship in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the SADC Heads of State Meeting in Pretoria today.
But President Edgar Lungu, who is already in South Africa for the SADC Heads of State summit, has called for a meeting with EFF leader Julius Malema and his Democratic Alliance counterpart Mmusi Maimane to understand their concerns about Zambia.
The Metro has also allowed the Patriotic Front’s South African branch to carry out a solidarity march for President Edgar Lungu’s “firm and sound leadership he has provided in Zambia”.
According to a statement, the EFF will team up with regional opposition political parties PUDEMO (SWAZILAND), UPND (Zambia) and others and the SADC Democracy Forum at the SADC Heads of State Summit.
EFF acting Gauteng Provincial commissar Mandisa Mashego said “We shall peacefully protest.”
For Africa to bring an end to despotic, undemocratic dictatorship across the entire continent, solidarity is necessary amongst all socialist, grassroots progressive political movements that are working tirelessly and daily to mobilise our communities, towards achieving genuine democracy that puts the economic and social empowerment priorities of the People first,
He said the EFF believed that because charity begins at home, it was important to focus on strengthening solidarity amongst organisations that were fighting for the same things in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region first.
“It is with this in mind that the EFF will be picketing in solidarity with the just struggles of the People of Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland; amongst other SADC nations,” said Mashego.
The EFF will join amongst others, the banned Swazi organisation, The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and the repressed opposition of Zambia, the United Party of National Development (UPND), in a protest against the Swazi dictator King Mswati III and the Zambian President who has kept about 2000 UPND activists imprisoned in Zambia.
According to the statement, authorities have designated a speakers corner for all those wishing to carry out peaceful pickets and placards outside the venue.
But President Lungu said in South Africa yesterday that he had instructed the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa to facilitate a meeting with Malema and Maimane during his stay there because the two South African opposition leaders had continued to criticize his government.
He claimed that the two opposition parties had appeared to disrespect the sovereignty of Zambia and had interfered in the domestic affairs of countries like Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
President Lungu said the two parties were creating a dangerous precedence that was likely to encourage political interference across borders.
Meanwhile, the Metro has allowed Patriotic Front’s South Africa branch to march from the Zambian Embassy in Pretoria to the Department of International Cooperation Conference Centre, the venue of the 37 SADC Meeting.
PF South Africa chairperson Sydney Njamba said his group was giving President Edgar Lungu solidarity for his “firm and sound leadership he has provided in Zambia.”
He urged Zambians based in South Africa, especially those from Pretoria area, to join and support their peaceful demonstration.
He said Zambia remained a shining example of democracy and rule of law for 50 years.