AFRICA’S founding fathers, who included Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, among others, totally embraced human values of solidarity and unity to ensure that not only their countries, but the whole continent and its people, were liberated from colonial rule.
That spirit of sacrifice and the need to work together for a common goal, among our forefathers, as they engaged in the struggle for independence, is not just a part of history, but acts as a firm foundation upon which our bilateral and multilateral relationships are deeply rooted.
All efforts aimed at strengthening these relations between and among African countries by our leaders must be commended. What they are doing is to ensure that the freedom fighters’ quest for freedom, peace and unity in the continent is not erased from our history. They are also honouring – in a special way – these gallant men and women who liberated the land; both those who are still alive and those who have died.
For Zambia and Zimbabwe, there is tangible evidence that points to the warm relations which actually make the two nations merge into ‘one people’. In 2016, Ambassador Gertrude Takawira of Zimbabwe said: “Blood forms a very important basis of our relationship, and it must never be forgotten. Our relationship with Zambia is something we need to continuously talk about.”
She was talking about Zimbabwe’s liberation war shrines [graves] in Zambia which she said point to the fact that, indeed, Zimbabweans were housed here. To her, they also show that the many Zambians who died in the Rhodesian bombardments that killed Zimbabweans paid the price of the struggle, hence the aspect of the two nations’ ‘blood’ that forms the basis of our relationship.
When Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited Zambia yesterday, he assured the nation that his government will continue promoting and enhancing the relationship that has existed for many years in all spheres between the two countries. Economic cooperation is thus assured in the implementation of programmes such as the Kariba Dam electricity project and establishment of one-stop border posts to improve efficiency; especially that the transition process regarding the presidency of that country has been smooth and peaceful.
The fact that he came to this country, after visiting South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia, testifies to the fact that he truly believes in the principles of the regional blocs, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC). By congratulating President Edgar Lungu on Zambia’s turn to take up the chairmanship of the SADC Troika on Defence and Security in August this year, he showed that he is ready to work with the regional body to enhance cooperation and promote peace and development in Africa.
President Lungu’s sentiments that Zimbabwe’s peace is good for Zambia and Africa as a whole – as he congratulated Mr Mnangagwa for the tranquillity during the period of the transition – serve as a great encouragement to the people of Zimbabwe who want to see national cohesion being upheld. Mr Lungu also did well to assure him that this country will fully support Zimbabwe in its quest to hold free and fair elections this year.
When President Mnangagwa says he is what he is now because of Zambia, it is simply a reminder that he once lived and was educated together with his ‘brothers and sisters’ in the land. Therefore, everything we need to do as a people needs to be done collectively. After all, integration of the two nations’ citizens in all areas, including social and economic cooperation, goes as far back as the pre-independence era.