DRC seeks Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa’s intervention in border dispute with Zambia

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, March 17, 2020. In an update to the nation on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared COVID-19 a national disaster, saying that the country had escalated its national response to the virus after neighboring countries in the region had reported cases. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has approached Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa to mediate in its long-standing border dispute with Zambia, government-controlled media reported Tuesday.

DRC special envoy Marie Nzeza on Monday met Mnangagwa at State House to brief him on the situation. Mnangagwa is the current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

DRC and Zambia have had misunderstandings over a part of their common 1,600km border, the latest arising from a late 1980s attempt to demarcate the frontier with beacons.

Mnangagwa said after the meeting that both countries were seeking SADC’s intervention on the matter. “A special envoy from my brother Tshisekedi of the DRC briefed me on the situation in DRC, in particular in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic and how they are tackling it.

“There is also the security situation where DRC and Zambia want the Organ on Defence and Politics to look at a small matter which is existing between the Republic of Zambia and DRC,” he said.

Nzeza, who is also the DRC Foreign Affairs Minister, refused to shed more light into the issue saying that she was not at liberty to share what had been discussed in her meeting with Mnangagwa, according to the Herald newspaper.

It is not the first time that SADC has been approached to discuss border disputes between two member states. In the 1990s, the regional bloc intervened in the dispute between Botswana and Namibia over ownership of an island on the Chobe River, which forms part of their border.

The matter was subsequently referred to the International Court of Justice, with the World Court ruling in 1999 that the island belonged to Botswana.

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