World Bulletin / News Desk
Maimane was planning to attend the treason trial of Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema scheduled on Friday at a court in the capital Lusaka, the statement by Democratic Alliance said late Thursday.
Upon Maimane’s arrival at Kenneth Kaunda airport Thursday evening, it said, the Zambian police reportedly boarded the aircraft, aggressively confronted him and confiscated his private cell phone.
“Mr. Maimane was en route there to show support to Mr. Hichilema who is being unduly persecuted by his government,” the statement read.
Maimane told local TV channel Enca upon arrival that he had also been assaulted by the police.
The party said it has taken up the matter with the South Africa Ministry of International Relations, and expects them to dispatch diplomats to the airport.
“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 added.
Ministry of International Relations was not available to comment, but it is expected it will issue a statement later today.
Maimane’s party is the second largest party in South Africa. It has been critical of President Jacob Zuma’s alleged abuse of office and corrupt dealings with the influential Indian Gupta Family.
Zuma’s ruling African National Congress Party (ANC), which has been a champion of democratic rule in the Southern African region, has remained silent on Hichilema’s incarceration.
Hichilema was arrested and charged with treason over an incident on Apr. 8, when they allegedly blocked Zambian president’s motorcade as it passed through Mongu, a town 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Lusaka.