Editor's Comment

Good neighbourliness must be promoted

PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema

FOR a recently elected Head of State, President Hakainde Hichilema needs to get acquainted to the many issues affecting the country both at home and abroad. This is important for him to make informed decisions on behalf of the country. It is understandable, therefore, that President Hichilema has had to fulfil international engagements that have included the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Regionally, President Hichilema, as the country’s chief diplomat, has attended the Inter-Africa Trade Fair in Durban, South Africa, and the Children’s Summit in Kasane, Botswana. Yesterday, the President travelled to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a two-fold mission: represent the country at a DRC-Africa Business Forum as well as hold bilateral talks with his Congolese counterpart, Félix Tshisekedi. As Zambia’s chief marketing officer, President Hichilema was in the Congolese capital to represent the people of Zambia with a message to investors that they make Zambia their next business destination. In addition to the over US$45 million deals signed following the ZDA trade mission, we hope Zambia will further expand its business wings to the country’s largest neighbour. The DRC-Africa Business Forum 2021, which brought together high-level stakeholders, is a platform Zambia should be part of because it provides opportunities for facilitation of investments. There are new opportunities coming up virtually every day around the world and Zambia cannot afford to sit back. Zambia has to make the effort to lure the businesses because the competition is stiff for these investors. The trip was important, too, because it provided a one-on-one opportunity for the leaders of the two countries to confer on matters of mutual interest and concern. These include the simmering border dispute between DR Congo and Zambia. The border, which former colonial powers Belgium (for the DRC) and Britain (for Zambia) drew at the end of the 19th century, has continuously been contested and proven to be unclear.
This historical border dispute keeps resurfacing with varying levels of tension as seen in 1996, 2006 and 2016.
Experts from the countries have been demarcating the border in efforts to put finality to the dispute but clearly the matter has not been concluded yet. These efforts must continue because harmony between the peoples of the two countries is what is best for them. Therefore,, we hope that this new level of engagement at the highest level will be yet another key step towards fully restoring good neighbourliness. The trip to Kinshasa yesterday is one such perfect example to discuss such important matters While having one eye on negotiating treaties with other countries at the DRC-Africa Business Forum 2021, President Hichilema evidently wants to ensure that the DR Congo and Zambia are on the same page on all aspects of engagement. Zambia sees Congo as a strategic business partner. It has a market for Zambia’s agro products and groceries. That is why President Hichilema changed the narrative from smuggling to trading with a view to creating a win-win situation with Congolese business people.
But this can only take place in an environment where there is peace and stability.

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