Zambia's ambassador to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, has accused opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of "peddling lies and falsehood" about the southern African country during his three day visit to South Africa.
Hichilema told a press conference on Thursday that Zambia was reeling under an undemocratic government. He also said that his recent treason charges were politically motivated.
But in a statement sent to News24, the Zambian High Commissioner said: "It was sad that a Zambia national could travel abroad and speak ill of the country, especially on remarks based on lies and falsehood."
Mwamba described Hichilema's claims as "lies... based on total fabrications".
"Mr Hichilema's release from prison together with his co-accused was a demonstration of Zambia's entrenched rule of law and a tested democracy," said Mwamba.
Mwamba also rejected Hichilema's claim that the media in the country was under attack.
'Thank you for standing up for democracy'
He said: "Those claims were lies as there was a diversified and independent media with over 85 Radio stations and 15 Television stations including 10 Newspaper firms operating freely in Zambia."
Hichilema was released from custody two weeks ago after being detained for allegedly failing to give way to President Edgar Lungu's motorcade."It is not because the police have done an investigation, it is because a member of the ruling party has instigated the police to arrest this citizen," said Hichilema.
"You cannot have a criminal justice system that operates like that."
Hichilema also said that the involvement of Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in his detainment helped highlight the plight his country was facing.
Hichilema and Maimane told the media in Parliament that Africans needed to unite to fight against dictatorships and oppression on the continent.
"To my brother, Mmusi Maimane, I say thank you for standing up for democracy in my country, and please allow me to apologise on behalf of the 16-million Zambians over what happened to you on our soil," Hichilema said at the joint press conference.