Zambia has deported former Zimbabwean Finance minister and senior opposition politician Tendai Biti to Zimbabwe despite a court order against the move, according to his lawyer. Zambia’s government has on Wednesday, rejected Mr. Biti’s request for asylum on the ground that his reasons for the asylum were weak. Mr. Biti fled to Zambia after Zimbabwean police accused him of orchestrating violence and issued an arrest warrant for him.
The opposition MDC Alliance has refused to accept Mnangagwa’s victory in last week’s elections, the first in Zimbabwe since former President Robert Mugabe was removed from power. The opposition insisted the elections were rigged and the results bogus. At least six deaths were recorded, as a result of the clashes between the opposition MDC Alliance supporters and the security agents over the election results. The opposition group demanded that their leader, Nelson Chamisa is declared the true winner of the elections.
While the opposition has accused the Zimbabwean government of an excessive crackdown on its supporters, following the aftermaths of the election, the government, on the other hand, blames the opposition of inciting violence and attempting to cause a political mayhem in the country. Furthermore, the Mnangagwa’s government wants Mr. Biti arrested, whom they accused of an “unlawful” announcement that Mr. Chamisa had won the election.
Tendai Biti’s lawyer Gilbert Phiri had accused the Zambian government of disobeying the court order over Mr. Biti’s asylum. Mr. Phiri insisted that Zambia’s High Court ruled on Wednesday night that Mr. Biti should not be deported until a “judicial review” of the government’s decision to reject his asylum application. Despite the court order, Zambian immigration and police officers hurriedly handed over Mr. Biti to the Zimbabwean law enforcement officers at the Chirundu border post, according to Mr. Phiri.
It is on record that Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party has always been a strong ally of Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF. Even when its founding leader, the late Michael Sata was the President of Zambia, PF had been a staunch supporter of the Mugabe’s government. This cordial relationship between Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) has not changed under the new Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu. Interestingly, Mr. Biti has been an outspoken supporter of opposition leader Hakaide Hichilema of Zambia and had on many occasions harshly criticised President Lungu’s human rights records, including his arrest of Mr. Hichilema on treason charges. Many who follow the latest political development in Zimbabwe strongly believe that the quick decision by the Zambian government to allegedly ignore the court order and hand over Tendai Biti to the Zimbabwean authorities may not be unconnected with the belief that President Lungu wanted to pay Mr. Biti in his own coin.
With the latest news of the deportation of Tendai Biti the minister of finance in the 2008 unity government, credited with taming the Zimbabwean’s hyperinflation and stabilizing the economy, will the political tension in Zimbabwe become messier and the confrontation between the ruling Zanu-PF party the MDC Alliance opposition lead to more instability in the country?