ARTHUR MWANSA, Lusaka
MINISTER of Defence Davis Chama says Zambia will always co-operate with other countries in ensuring that weapons of mass destruction do not find themselves in the hands of terrorists.
And Mr Chama said Zambia has demonstrated full commitment to supporting the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by clearing its arrears to the establishment in full.
Mr Chama said he is aware that most countries in the Southern Africa region, Zambia inclusive, have faced challenges in implementing and adhering to provisions of the Chemical Weapon Convention.
He was speaking in Lusaka yesterday when he officially opened a five-day planning and coordination meeting for the project to strengthen assistance and protection of Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states against chemical incidences.
“In order to demonstrate Government’s commitment to support the work of the OPCW, I am glad to announce that Zambia has now fully cleared all its arrears to the OPCW. In line with our obligations under the Convention, Zambia will in future ensure that it pays its assessed contributions on time,” Mr Chama said.
Mr Chama is pleased that the programme for the meeting will include a public lecture at the University of Zambia to sensitise people on the threats of chemical weapons in Africa.
He said like many other countries in the SADC region, Zambia does not develop, manufacture, stockpile, transfer or transport chemical weapons.
Mr Chama, however, said threats of chemical weapons finding themselves on the region’s soils are real.
The minister also commended OPCW director general Ahmet Üzümcü for his tireless efforts in fostering peace and security under the general framework of international disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction around the world over the last 20 years.
SADC secretariat representative Ricardo Afonso said the meeting will endeavour to come up with a project which will ensure that the region is protected against chemical incidences.