President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa says he did not call Zambia a security or a client state of the United States in a conversation with Russian leader Vladmir Putin.

In a recorded meeting with Putin in St Petersburg early this month, Mnangagwa accused the US of using Zambia as a strategic tool to isolate Zimbabwe within the region through military and economic support.

He also suggested that the military co-operation between the two countries could pose a security threat to Zimbabwe and the broader region.

However, in a statement yesterday, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba took exception to a NewsDay story published yesterday titled ‘US scoffs at ED’, which said the president felt that “Zambia posed a security threat to Zimbabwe’ and that ‘Zambia had become an American client-State and was bent on destabilising the region.”

“President Mnangagwa’s remarks were very clear and are in the public domain; they pointedly referred to, and abhorred America’s hostile activities in the Sadc [Southern African Development Community] region, which activities are calculated to isolate Zimbabwe, and to undermine peaceful inter-state relations, good neighbourliness and cohesion which all member states in our region are sworn to, continually cherish and jealously guard,” Charamba said.

“For the record and for the avoidance of any doubt, President Mnangagwa stands by his remarks in St Petersburg which raised well-founded fears for Zimbabwe regarding American intentions and activities in our region, and which voiced and defended Zimbabwe’s sacrosanct security interests, while echoing the collective position of Sadc and the African Union, AU, against any foreign military presence and/ or activities on African soil.

“At no point did the president of Zimbabwe describe the sister Republic of Zambia as posing a security threat to Zimbabwe or as a client state of any power, including America.”