President Edgar Lungu leaves for Rwanda today for a state visit.
According to state house, the visit by President Lungu to that country is a reciprocal one after that country’s leader visited Zambia last year.
As National Democratic Congress NDC we wish to raise a number of concerns as regards to President lungu’s visit to the East African country.
Firstly, we have no misgivings if Mr lungus visit to Rwanda is in Zambia’s interest.
If the visit by the Head of State to that country is an attempt to consolidate further the bilateral and economic ties that the two countries enjoy, then, it is worth its under taking.
If the visit by president Lungu to that country is part of growing efforts to promote peace in the great lakes region, then, it is a trip worth talking about.
The visit by President Lungu to Rwanda comes barely a few days after Joseph kabila the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo visited Zambia over the weekend.
It is an open secret that the war and tension in neighbouring Congo DRC has partially been fuelled by Rwanda.
Rwanda and countries such as Uganda and other international players have vested interest in the Congo.
The insurgency in the Congo that has left millions displaced is purely centred on the vast mineral wealth in that country.
We hope the visit by Mr Lungu to Rwanda will not create another diplomatic spat between Zambia and the DRC.
Mr. Lungu should use his visit to Kigali to find a lasting solution to the DRC crisis.
The President should confer and tell his brother comrade Paul kagame to immediately help stop the conflict in the Congo.
President Lungu should not betray the aspirations of the Congolese people that his counterpart kabila raised during talks held over the weekend.
Our interests in the Congo as Zambia are well known.
The Congo is Zambia’s strategic trade partner.
Peace in the Congo means peace for Zambia.
Zambia and the DRC share one of the longest border fronts stretching over two thousand kilometers.
Therefore, any political disturbance in the DRC has far reaching consequences on Zambia.
Zambia hosts the Great lakes Region Headquarters and President Lungu knows who the culprit’s are in the Congo crisis.
President Lungu has the opportunity to become an international statesman if he threads well on the Congo.
President Lungu is close to the leaders of both Rwanda and Uganda.
Mr. Lungu can use his friendship with his two counterpart’s to coerce and convince them to help broker the much needed peace in the Congo.
The conflict in the DRC can be resolved by Africa its self if its leaders started looking at issues in a more practical and pragmatic manner.
We hope the Kigali trip by President Lungu is not just a visit in futility.
President Lungu and his DRC counter part Kabila disclosed salient issues on the Congo crisis over the weekend.
The Head of State has a lot of information on the conflict in the DRC and should thus, not betray the trust of his Congolese brother as he flies to Kigali.
Zambia currently hosts over ten thousand Congolese refugees.
This, is a burden on this country.
In the recent past, funding to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees UNHCR has reduced drastically.
This in it’s self has put a stress on the Zambian Government that is using its own resources to house DRC refugees.
President Lungu should be magnanimous enough and brave to openly tell President kagame on the sufferings of the Congolese people.
Kigali holds the key to peace in the Congo.
The Congo has never known peace since the days of its first president Patrice Lumumba.
As NDC, we believe that the mineral wealth in the Congo is not a curse.
Ordinarily, as NDC, we had our own misgivings at the visit of President kabila to Zambia last weekend.
Others call kabila illegitimate largely because he has refused to relinquish power.
However, kabila has held on to political office because of the international interests probably that countries such as Rwanda have in the DRC.
Whilst others might argue that Zambia should be non aligned on the happenings in other countries, we believe the DRC conflict requires the involvement of all parties and player’s.
President Lungu has a rare opportunity to talk on behalf of the hundred’s of our Congolese people who have endured great pain and anguish because of what God endowed them with.
Fighting in the Eastern DRC has escalated. We are told the newly formed rebel group the Elemwa has connection’s with Rwanda.
The visit by president Lungu is therefore one that should give hope to the DRC, a visit that can also build and raise Zambia’s reputation in finding peaceful solutions to regional conflicts.
Issued by: Mwenya Musenge. Secretary General, NDC.