The United States Government has donated four advanced high-performance helicopters to Zambia and also offered a comprehensive three-year training program for staff.
General Michael Langley, the Commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), announced this during a media briefing. He emphasised that these helicopters would enhance Zambia’s ability to participate in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions throughout Africa, further demonstrating the country’s commitment to fostering stability and peace in the region. General Langley was quoted by local media as saying:
_These high-performance helicopters will not only support Zambia in its vital role in UN peacekeeping missions but also stand ready to respond to future disasters, mitigate the effects of climate change, and provide assistance to neighboring nations._
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Lieutenant General Sitali Alibuzwi, the Zambia Army Commander, expressed gratitude and acknowledged the military’s numerous agreements with different countries, emphasizing Zambia’s commitment to fostering international cooperation for mutual benefit.
U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Michael Gonzalas highlighted the multifaceted nature of the relationship between the United States and Zambia. He emphasized that the partnership extends beyond military support to include health initiatives and other important sectors. Both nations share a commitment to enhancing stability, security, and overall development in Zambia and the region.
Rutendo Matinyarare, a supporter of ZANU PF, the ruling party in Zimbabwe, claims that the delivery of Blackhawk helicopters to Zambia is part of a U.S. plan to invade Zimbabwe. In a post seen by Pindula News, Matinyarare argues that Zambia, being a financially struggling country, lacks the resources to operate and maintain such advanced helicopters. Matinyarare suggests that the U.S. is deploying military assets in Zambia to invade Zimbabwe under the guise of protecting Zimbabweans from the alleged “evil ZANU PF government.” These claims are unsubstantiated and lack evidence.
Matinyarare’s remarks come amidst growing diplomatic tensions between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The tensions were worsened by Dr. Nevers Mumba’s condemnation of the August elections in Zimbabwe. Mumba, Zambia’s former Deputy President leading the SEOM, criticised the elections alleging they were not free, fair, and credible. He received death threats from some senior government officials in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, President Hakainde Hichilema‘s absence at President Emmerson Mnangagwa‘s inauguration on September 4, 2023, added to the strained relations. Complicating matters, the attendance of Hichilema’s predecessor, Edgar Lungu, whom some Zambian politicians accuse of colluding with Mnangagwa to oust Hichilema, has intensified tensions between the two neighbouring countries.