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Zambia's support.

President Robert Mugabe won a show of support from neighbouring Zambia with its vice-president, Rupiah Banda, calling him one of the world's great leaders who had shown courage by embarking on his controversial land reform programme in the face of Western criticism, and stating that any problems in Zimbabwe should be resolved among Africans.

"We are proud to stand in front of the world and say this is our brother and that any problems here or in Zambia can be solved by ourselves within the context of our continent and our organisation," Banda said after meeting Mugabe in Harare on 19 April.

"Zimbabwe is a sovereign state which should be respected by all, and that within its sovereignty, its people [should] decide who is their leader. As far as we are concerned, right here (pointing at Mugabe), we have one of the most outstanding leaders in the world and in Africa," the vice-president said.

Banda is seen as close to Zambia's founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, who recently warned against the "demonisation" of his old ally Mugabe. The vice-president was in Zimbabwe at the head of a Zambian delegation attending the country's 27th independence anniversary on 18 April.

Speaking to journalists after a visit to State House, Banda said it took a lot of courage by President Mugabe and his government to embark on the land reform programme and acquire land that was in the hands of foreigners for redistribution to its rightful owners. He urged Zimbabweans to jealously guard the land so that it did not go back into the hands of foreigners.

Under the failed Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the 1950s, Zambia was Northern Rhodesia while Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia. The two countries have been working together in various areas on the economic front under a joint commission.
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Title Annotation:ZIMBABWE: Sponsored supplement
Publication:New African
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6ZAMB
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:301
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