The Zambian government plans to appoint a national counter-terrorism coordinator soon to lead the formation of a national bureau tasked with fighting terrorism, money-laundering and other evolving national security threats.
Addressing delegates at the recent Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group Council of Ministers meeting in South Africa, Zambian Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila said his government approved the Anti-Terrorism Amendment Act (No. 2 of 2015) in July to pave the way for the establishment of a counter-terrorism center.
“The next step is now to establish the center,” Mwila said Aug. 28 at the meeting. “I wish to state that we have the money for this project in this year’s budget, and we will also have a budget line in the 2016 budget so that we can fully implement this program.”
The counter-terrorism center will comprise a fusion cell for an inter-agency intelligence service that will collect, analyze and act on activities related to terrorism and money-laundering. The bureau will be supported by a specially trained counter-terrorism force drawn from Zambia’s Army, Air Force, police, intelligence and prison services.
By December, Mwila said, Zambia will enact amendments to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act of 2010 to set up an autonomous anti-money laundering unit which will use intelligence-driven methods to fight the crime. Further, he said, Zambia has ratified four of the nine United Nations (UN) conventions aimed at countering the financing of terrorism.
Zambia is also moving toward outlining a regulatory framework for the implementation of the UN Security Council’s Resolutions 1267 and 1373, requiring countries to freeze funds, assets and economic resources of individuals and entities connected to terrorism or terror financing.
Like many other countries in Southern Africa, Zambia does not face any immediate terrorist threats but views the instability caused by simmering armed rebellions in neighboring Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as possible avenues for the spread of terrorism into the country.
Speaking at the Zambia-Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on Defense and Security last month, Mwila said the two nations’ security agencies need to expand cooperation in the fight against organized crimes such as smuggling and poaching, which have been identified as sources of terror financing in East, Central, North and West Africa.
Zambia’s moves follow the adoption of a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regional counter-terrorism strategy at a summit held in Gaborone last month. In a communiqué issued at the end of the regional summit, South African President Jacob Zuma said the region recognizes the threat posed by terrorism and the need for a coordinated response.
“As a region we have committed ourselves to ensuring our regional early warning system is improved to ensure it provides effective and efficient alerts to potential areas of insecurity and instability,” Zuma said.
Although it remains largely stable and free of armed rebellion, the SADC region is training its special operations forces to tackle terrorism, piracy and other evolving security threats. In March, the African Union’s commissioner for peace and security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, said the body has stepped up surveillance activities following the arrest of four Boko Haram militants in Namibia and Somalia.
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