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US AFRICOM Chief Denies Zimbabwe’s Claim Of Base In Zambia

GENERAL Michael Langley, head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), refuted claims by Zimbabwean officials that the United States is establishing a military base in neighbouring Zambia. During an online press briefing from the African Chiefs of Defence Conference in Botswana, Langley stated, ‘That’s absolutely false. We have no bases in Zambia. We have no plans to put one there.’

Langley emphasised the US’s strategy in Africa, describing it as ‘African-led and US-enabled.’ He highlighted the deep partnership and increased security cooperation with Zambia, clarifying that this does not involve setting up a military base. ‘We have increased security cooperation with them. But there is no footprint. There’s no posture. There’s no base,’ he reiterated.


Zimbabwean officials declined to comment on Langley’s remarks, but Rutendo Matinyarare, chairperson of the pro-government Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement, alleged that Langley held a briefing in Lusaka and that the US was setting up the AFRICOM hub in Zambia. Matinyarare claimed that several businesspeople observed significant amounts of American military equipment at Zambia’s airport, questioning the presence of these weapons.

In response, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema denied any US militarisation of Zambia, explaining that Zambia’s army participates in exchange programmes with various countries, including the US, which should not be misconstrued as establishing a base. Zambia has called on the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to mediate talks with Zimbabwe.

The tension between Zambia and Zimbabwe reportedly stems from remarks made by Zimbabwean President Emerson Mnangagwa during a recent trip to Russia, accusing the US of militarising Zambia to consolidate power in the region and isolate Zimbabwe. This situation is complicated by the history of Western sanctions on Zimbabwean leadership and companies for alleged election rigging and human rights abuses. While the US has lifted sanctions on most Zimbabweans, President Mnangagwa remains sanctioned.

At the defence conference, Langley discussed regional security challenges with African partners. ‘Our African partners want this conference here because they want to own it. But we are AFRICOM, and the US government is here because we have common values, common objectives, that will affect stability, security, and prosperity on the continent,’ VOA quoted him as saying. He added that the conference provided valuable information and lessons for future talks.

Langley’s denial and the ensuing diplomatic discourse underscore the complexities of international relations and regional security dynamics in Africa.

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