DA leader Mmusi Maimane
Johannesburg – Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane was prevented from entering Zambia on Thursday, the party said.

DA national spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme said that Maimane was stopped at the Lusaka Airport and said that the party was calling on the South African government to intervene.

“DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, a Constitutional Office Bearer of South Africa, has this evening been forcefully prevented from entering the Republic of Zambia, by Zambian Police who boarded his arriving SAA flight upon touchdown,” Van Damme said.

“The DA Leader was arriving in Zambia, on Africa Day, to attend and observe the treason trial of Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema tomorrow at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court. Mr Maimane was en route there to show support to Mr Hichilema who is being unduly persecuted by his government, and to show the DA’s commitment to a human-rights based foreign policy.”

She said that Maimane had strongly denounced the trumped up charges against Hichilema, and had condemned the African National Congress government for not yet taking a stand against his treason charges.

Van Damme said when Maimane arrived the Zambian Police boarded the aircraft and “aggressively confronted” him. They took his private cellphone, she said.

“We have taken this matter up urgently with the Ministry of International Relations, and we expect that they will dispatch South African Diplomats to Kenneth Kaunda airport immediately,” she said.

“The South Africa government has the right and the duty to issue a demarche, or diplomatic order, and we expect that they will do so. It is a deeply shameful day for the Republic of Zambia, when a Leader of the Opposition from South Africa cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day. But we will not be deterred.”

Maimane is expected to address the media when he returns to South Africa. Van Damme said that it was unclear when he would return.

“This will not deter the DA from our objectives of fostering a culture of democracy and human rights in South Africa and in the region.”

The department of international relations was not immediately available for comment.