Zambia’s ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) has accused ZANU PF of unleashing its social media “army” or “varakashi” to attack its leadership, which it says could sour relations between the two neighbours.
UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu, considered a ZANU PF favourite, in Zambia’s presidential election last month, the margin of his victory surprising pundits.
UPND is seen as close to Zimbabwe’s opposition, the MDC Alliance after inviting its leaders, Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti and other opposition figures in the region to Hichilema’s inauguration.
UPND spokesperson Joseph Kalimbwe said Hichilema and his party were being targeted by ZANU PF cyber-attacks which he said were “scandalous”. Kalimbwe tweeted:
We are in Zambia talking about the need to tackle corruption in our country but across the border, ZANU PF supporters think the message is directed at them and so they start to attack and demonise us.
Not even our own political opponents attack us as they do. It’s scandalous!.
Kalimbwe told NewsDay yesterday that they were being attacked on social media platforms by some ZANU PF members who were criticising Hichilema’s personality and policies.
He said Zimbabwe’s ruling party has “always been uneasy” over UNDP’s close relations with Chamisa. He said:
We have always been victims of several online attacks on the party and the President. Not so long after the presidential spokesperson (Charamba) labelled President Hichilema a sellout, several other members of the ruling ZANU PF party attacked us online with regards to our policies which have nothing to do with Zimbabwean governance.
Such actions do not guarantee amicable diplomatic ties. UPND as a ruling party does not concern itself with the affairs of its neighbour, Zimbabwe, but on the contrary, ZANU PF members have been very much concerned with how President Hichilema runs Zambia.
However, ZANU PF acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa said he was not aware of any case where members of the ruling party had attacked the Zambian government. Said Chinamasa:
I can’t comment on the alleged attacks against the Zambian party because I am not aware of such an incident.
I am yet to check on the alleged attacks. As ZANU PF, we remain friendly with the Zambian government. ZANU PF has never been a hostile party.