BORDER boundaries have been redrawn on a disputed 13-square-kilometre territory between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a protracted Sadc-driven mediation spearheaded by Zimbabwe, it has emerged.
Zimbabwe’s secretary for Foreign Affairs, James Manzou, led the mediation process.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa chairs the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation which is mandated with ensuring peace and stability in the region.
The chairpersonship – held on a one-year-rotational basis –lapses during the Sadc heads of state and government summit to be held virtually during the course of next week. The neighbouring states have for nearly two months been locked in a bitter wrangle over the control of a territory on the border measuring approximately 13 square kilometres.
The dispute erupted when the DRC accused Zambia of moving to occupy part of its territory in Moba region early last month.
The Congolese government resultantly beefed up its military presence in the area, leading to clashes between the two countries’ soldiers, sparking fears of war.
The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha) disclosed at the time that the armies’ clashes had resulted in massive displacements in Moba.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on May 11 sent to Harare a special envoy, Marie Nzeza, who is also the country’s Foreign Minister, requesting Mnangagwa’s mediation.
A source directly involved in the mediation process told the Zimbabwe Independent this week the border dispute had been resolved and has left both countries satisfied.
“A breakthrough has been made in the border dispute between the DRC and Zambia. They didn’t know where the pegs marking the border were so we sent our experts there to look at the disputed points and hear their stories and then it emerged that we had to peg new border points,” the official said.
“It was realised that the DRC army had encroached into the Zambian territory and that the Zambians, in reaction to that, had also marched into the DRC. But now both sides are happy. Initially, the DRC President was skeptical, thinking that Zimbabwe would fight on the same side with Zambia and had also approached Congo Brazzaville and South Africa as he doubted that the chairman of the organ, who is the president of Zimbabwe, would be impartial. Now he is so happy that we expect him to fly to Harare soon just to say thank Zimbabwe. The Zambians are also happy. We had to reconstruct those border points,” the source said.
Efforts to get a comment from Manzou were fruitless as he was not answering calls on his mobile phone and had not responded to messages sent to his office by the time of going to print. However, deputy chief secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet in Zimbabwe responsible for presidential communications George Charamba, in a post on his official Twitter handle @Jamwanda2 on Tuesday appeared to congratulate the President Mnangagwa on the development.
“Zimbabwe diplomacy’s finest hour!!! As chairman of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Management, President E.D. Mnangagwa has brokered a border misunderstanding which threatened peace between sister republics of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Well done,” he wrote.
He also posted a congratulatory message for both Zambian and DRC governments: “Well done governments of Zambia and DRC. Let lasting peace prevail so Southern Africa moves forward in fraternal amity”.