ZIMBABWE’s opposition political party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused its government of blocking Zambia’s United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema from attending its congress as guest of honour.
But UPND Chairperson for Information and Publicity Charles Kakoma has refuted MDC’s claims saying Mr. Hichilema was never invited to Zimbabwe by any institution, alleging that the story was false as he had never attempted to leave the country to attend any meeting anywhere.
The opposition MDC Renewal Team led by former Finance Minister Tendai Biti accused government of blocking its choice of guest-of-honour at the party’s inaugural congress which ended yesterday.
Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume told the Zimbabwean media on Thursday that the Renewal Team had invited Mr. Hichilema but had met with obstacles from the government.
“We had invited other social democrats from the region and Mr Hichilema was supposed to be our guest of honour but, as has become the norm, President Robert Mugabe’s regime has thrown spanners in the works.
“First it was the claim that they did not have enough manpower or some church had booked into the same venue as us hence we were forced to postpone, and now they will not allow our friends to come into the country,” Mr. Mafume said.
He accused officials from the ministry of Foreign Affairs of rejecting their request to invite Hichilema to the event.
He further said that South African academician Moeletsi Mbeki, who had agreed attend the congress two weeks ago before the forced postponement, also indicated he could not attend the rescheduled gathering because he was committed elsewhere.
The three-day event was held under the theme ‘Reclaiming Zimbabwe’ and ended yesterday with an approximate 7,000 delegates attending, according to officials. But Mr. Kakoma said the claims that Mr. Hichilema had been denied entry into Zimbabwe by that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs were not true as he was conducting campaigns in Lubansenshi and Solwezi West constituencies ahead of the September 24, 2015 parliamentary and local government elections.
“We have received numerous calls from journalists alleging that UPND President Hakainde Hichilema was denied entrance into Zimbabwe. To start with Mr. Hichilema is busy with by election campaigns at the moment. Mr. Hichilema is so far not aware of an invitation to that country for any activity,” Mr. Kakoma said.