–Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries that share the mighty Zambezi river have formed an institution aimed at finding ways of properly and responsibly managing and utilizing the river and its natural resources for economic development and sustainability.
The institution, called the Zambezi watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), was formed and launched last evening in Luanda, Angola, after years of planning by technocrats and experts from the concerned countries.
The eight concerned states, called riparian countries, include the host country, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Speaking during the launch, Angolan Minister of Environment, Fatima Jardim, said the formation and launch of ZAMCOM is long overdue as the countries involved needed collaboration in enhancing the best way of utilizing and managing the Zambezi river.
Ms Jardim said proper governance of the Zambezi river was cardinal as the people in the eight countries depend on the Zambezi river not only for its water but for other socio-economic activities like power generation, agriculture, wildlife and transport among others.
She noted that the Zambezi river and its basin were strategic for the riparian countries and needed to be harnessed together with its vast natural resources.
And speaking in an interview with ZANIS after the launch, Zambia’s Deputy Minister for Mines, Energy and Water Development, Charles Zulu, thanked President Michael Sata for allowing Zambia to be part of ZAMCOM as the country has the largest share of the Zambezi River and its basin.
Mr Zulu said further noted that Zambia and Malawi delayed in signing certain concerting documents, but was quick to mention that the PF government was committed to ensuring that the country partners with any organization and belongs to institutions aimed at enhancing economic development and poverty eradication.
He said Zambia is expected to rip a lot of economic benefits by belonging to ZAMCOM through various projects that will be planned and implemented.
Mr Zulu urged the eight riparian countries not to be a talking shop where programmes will end up on the drawing board, saying he expected ZAMCOM to implement every program and activity that will be drawn and ratified by the member states.
Meanwhile, Interim ZAMCOM Executive Secretary, Michael Mutale, said SADC countries should see ZAMCOM as another step in the promotion of unity in the region and Africa at large.
Mr Mutale said the birth and launch of ZAMCOM, whose planning has been on the drawing board since 1987, will ensure that the Zambezi river and its basin are economically managed as opposed to being exposed to devastation and pollution.
He added that the launch was the start of a long journey as it has long-term benefits and collective agreements on certain regional projects.
The interim head quarters of ZAMCOM in Gaborone, Botswana will now be shifted to Harare in Zimbabwe.