Southern Africa: DRC, Zambia Seek SADC Intervention On Border Conflict

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has approached President Mnangagwa to mediate in its long-standing border dispute with Zambia in his capacity as chairman of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

DRC and Zambia have had misunderstandings over one part of their common 1 600km border, the latest arising from a late 1980s attempt to demarcate the frontier with beacons.

Zimbabwe was mandated by Sadc to ensure maintenance of peace, security and rule of law within the region.

DRC special envoy Marie Nzeza yesterday met President Mnangagwa at State House to brief him on the situation.

Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo, Commander Defence Forces Phillip Valerio Sibanda and other senior Government officials attended the meeting.

Addressing the media after the meeting, President Mnangagwa said both countries were seeking Sadc's intervention.

"A special envoy from my brother Tshisekedi of the DRC briefed me on the situation in DRC, in particular in relation to the current Covid-19 pandemic and how they are tackling it. There is also the security situation where DRC and Zambia want the organ on Defence and Politics to look at a small matter which is existing between the Republic of Zambia and DRC," President Mnangagwa said.

The DRC envoy, who is the country's Foreign Affairs minister, refused to shed finer details on the matter, saying she was not at liberty to share what was discussed.

Minister Moyo explained dynamics informing the special envoy's visit.

"Zambia and DRC have got a border line which is 1 600 kilometres long and as a result of that, it has had some different forms of misinterpretation of where Zambia was and ends. There was a treaty which was signed in 1989 by the then Presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Mobutu Sese Seko where there were beacons put along the border.

"There was a conflict at one of the border areas and they have decided to approach the organ on Defence and Security so that this can be resolved peacefully in the spirit of Sadc," Minister Moyo said. The Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation is established under the Sadc Treaty and Article 4 of the Sadc Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security.

It stipulates that the chairperson of the organ, in consultation with the Troika of Sadc, is responsible for the overall policy direction and achievement of the objectives of the organ, of promoting peace and security in the Sadc region.

Under a strict and founding African Union policy, colonial frontiers remain in place unless otherwise agreed without dissent. The occasional border disputes, such as between Nigeria and Cameroon and between Botswana and Namibia, have all arisen because of ambiguities or incomplete information in a colonial treaty.

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