Analysis: AARON BRAITHEWAITE ZYAMBO
THE incessant impasse between the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), formerly Zaire and Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) needs immediate redress before this melancholy develops into unresolvable proportion by heads of states and all stakeholders involved to enhance peace, love, harmony and proper trade facilitation vis-à-vis much nurtured and treasured by nations herein involved.
Since a decade ago, there has been decadence of peace due to the atavistic and uncouth behaviour of our ancestral brothers on the borderfront of Zambia and DRC, especially on the Kasumbalesa-Lubumbashi highway. The latest event of brutalising the driver on this Trans-Kalahari-Ndola-DRC Corridor (TND) is yet another Non-Tariff-Barrier (NTB) and impediment to both bilateral and international trade and yet we share a common ancestry-The Mwatiyamvu Kingdom which is hitherto forgotten and exists only historically.
Needless to say, there has been a spate of unpalatable events to mention but a few, shooting of and shooting at drivers, pedestrian knock downs, looting of trucks and recently barbaric scathing and wounding of the driver that cannot be ignored as they are now running towards a medieval Trojan culture and game that is contrary to the tenets of globalisation and allowable ideals of the World Trade Organisation and the peace fostering expectations of the United Nations and related regional economic groupings (REGs).
Impact of the impasse on the border frontier between DRC and Zambia
The inhuman and barbaric culture that has hitherto been exhibited by our beloved Congolese Brothers has far reaching implications that on the intra – DRC economic ramifications that do not only hamper bilateral trade efforts but could likely have adverse economic effects on commodity supply and prices as this disturbs the global supply chain stretching into and out of that country. Conversely, the topographical location and activities in the DRC puts the nation completely at a disadvantage being a landlinked-landlocked developing country (LLDC). Other resultant consequences are that the transport costs of freight into DRC are bound to escalate as truckers moving goods into that country will not only enter that country but transship and cross-dock cargo onto Congolese trucks.
The truckers transporting goods into DRC from other countries are bound to undertake measures that will ensure that their businesses are profitable and not risky to their drivers and transport units. While on the other hand, the transport rates on the other hand are likely to sky – rocket if the existing non – tariff barrier and attitudes of our DRC brothers persist and consequences will follow as dictated by the situation thereof. The current situation will compound not only transport rates but will also affect insurance premium rates as truckers would want to ensure safety of both their transport units and the drivers. The eventual effects resulting from this impasse has serious effects and worsens the cost of doing business nationally and regionally. In short, a phenomenal negation to trade and harmony in the region!
Safe options to impasse
While on the other hand, foreign truckers into DRC could resort to less costly options of trans-shipping goods to a safer port of entry, say on the Kasumbalesa or Zambian border frontier. This situation means more costs added to shipment due to handling charges as well as increased border delays, demurrage charges, contractual breaches and related obligations. Moreover, the perpetuation of this impasse has effects on the consolidation of B2B relationships between individuals and companies across the two countries and other surrounding international trade partners.
Historical ancestral perspective
History has it that both Zambia and DRC share a common ancestry originating from the Luba – Lunda Kingdom and the Mwatiyamvu Empire that existed generations ago. Our language, traditions and even the copper smelting instincts that created things like the Katanga Copper Cross emanate from this epoch in our history. This probably is the genesis of our copper industry that now are commercially existing in both countries, which currently are the mainstay of our economies and henceforth making them the world’s greatest copper producers. While on the contrary, the dou countries rank among the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on earth. However, the uncouth and barbaric event of July 4, 2012 disregards the existence of our rich history and brotherly nature and deserves the greatest condemnation and urgent restoration of love, harmony and hope to the afflicted and affected families.
International trade situation
Both DRC and Zambia are LLDCs that symbiotically depend on each other and other nations in many socio-economic, socio-cultural ways and topographically, transit-dependent on other nations for survival and indeed of its citizens. The duo nations have hitherto no or not developed sea ports to receive inbound and outbound freight movement of products and raw materials to feed the continuum of commerce and industry. The driving components of economic development is the inter and multi-modal nature of connectivity, facilitated by mainly overland transportation from one nation to the other and from other continents. While on the one hand, the hinterland nature means great transit dependency on pipelines; airways; waterways or inland habours and terminals; rail and road transportation to enable economic growth to these nations and increase of meaningful international trade and benefits thereto. The issues at DRC and Kasumbalesa border therefore, if prolonged, impact negatively bilaterally and trade-wise. To drive a point home, this impasse has negative bearing on the trade inflows and outflows, especially for DRC, as most of their imports and exports exit through a 1,500 kilometre stretch of the Zambian border. Thus southwards of DRC through Kasumbalesa border and on the eastern part through Mpulungu Habour port. The interdependence of DRC and Zambia cannot be overemphasised, as hitherto been in existence from the creation of Africa. Therefore, such barbaric and satanic reactions exhibited by both parties in inter-alia the shooting of Patrick Mwila from Luanshya; the gunning down of a Zimbabwean driver; the July 4, 2012 truck accident and resultant response, should be bilaterally and culturally resolved to enable smooth growth of trade and maintenance of historical socio-cultural and ancestral links and heritage between the two countries. The cost of doing business across national frontiers has direct connotations, resulting from such uncalled for and retrogressive individually entrenched demonic practices.
The current existing border impasse does have negative implications in promoting trade and of facilitation business activities that improve cross-border interaction, especially between individual small-scale cross-border traders and business community. In any economy, the role of cross-border traders is the genesis of the much needed platform for even further B2B business interaction and growth of the much desired international trade. The volume of formal and informal business activities across national borders plays a significant role in the facilitation of growth of international trade across countries.
As it is evidently so, the small-scale business activities worldwide account for a good 60-70 percent of any developed or underdeveloped or emerging economies and nations, of whom DRC and Zambia are a part in the global supply chain.
It is therefore pertinent to expediently address the issue on our borders through trade facilitation activities that could address challenges affecting international trade. In addition to existing non – tariff barriers, the situation is contrary to the aspirations of reducing the cost of doing business across the two nations and others.
The way forward
The Zambian and DRC authorities should critically evaluate any outstanding issues that are raised by users of the Kasumbalesa border post and engage in trade facilitation dialogue and inter – cultural issues in resolving the impasse, before it transcends to unmanageable proportion. The two governments should take the route of involving all the users of the Kasumbalesa border, including the Chiefs on either sides of border, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), transporters, truck drivers, cross – border associations, the civic societies, chambers of commerce, relevant authorities and stakeholders from both countries and others. Once the impasse has been resolved, trade facilitation activities such as a ‘one – stop’ border and single document customs facilities could easily be pursued in the near future. This will demand concerted efforts from both countries. While on the other hand, if the situation reaches unpalatable levels there is need for indefinite border closure to coerce the two countries into high-level dialogue and intervention into this matter.
An appeal to the Southern African Dvelopment Community (SADC) chairperson and likewise his Common Market for Southern Africa (COMESA) counterpart and the newly-elected President Felix Tshisekedi, this is a local derby that needs immediate redress as it has now grown to the size of your attention and level and needs your blessings. The options and solutions are many that no human life should be lost any further. While at the South most bottom of the continent, the melancholy and conduct of our beloved brothers in South Africa in particular. This grotesque and incessant occultism of xenophobia, needs emergency attention of all African Heads of State to resolve. At the moment, xenophobia is rated Africa’s greatest post-medieval happening ever exhibited by our brothers whom at the one time, where hosted by many nations when racist act of Apartheid was a polite of white rule in South Africa. This act of evil your Excellences and allied authorities, needs your urgent attention as its impact is likely to isolate that particular nation, resulting from the exhibited dormancy of the responsible leadership in addressing this matter, that has resulted into loss of innocent lives in the years of its perpetration by our beloved brothers.
The author is European Senior Logistician & Guru (Germany & UK trained) & University of Bolton Supply Chain Management Scholar and also CEO and Lead Consultant for Megavision Logistics Limited. “Providing manifold consultancy services, personnel outsourcing and Logistics & Transport, sustainable Supply Chain Management and International Trade innovative pragmatic solutions to the world”.
Analysis: AARON BRAITHEWAITE ZYAMBO