By KALANI MUCHIMA –
FROM the pre-Independence era, to date, Zambia and Mozambique have been partners economically, socially and politically.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries, were established in 1975 when Mozambique got her independence although, the two countries, had already established linkages and cooperation especially that Zambia even played a key role in the liberation struggle of that country.
In the area of economic diplomacy, Mozambique has been a reliable partner for Zambia, as most of the country’s imports such as petroleum products, fertiliser, and spices from Asia and Russia come through Mozambican ports before they are transported by road to Zambia through the Chanida border in Katete district of Eastern Province.
Further, using this same route, Zambia exports products such as copper, sugar, and maize, poultry among others to Mozambique.
To cement the warm and cordial bilateral relations that exist between the two countries, President Hakainde Hichilema on April 4, 2023 honoured an invitation from Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi to undertake a three-day state visit to that country.
The Zambian Head of State was accompanied by First Lady Mutinta on the trip.
President Hichilema was upon arrival at the Maputo International Airport, Airforce Base, received by Mozambican Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Veronica Macamo and the Zambian delegation comprising Foreign Affairs Minister, Stanley Kakubo, Energy Minister Peter Kapala, Transport and Logistics Minister Frank Tayali, Commence Trade and Industry Minister Chipoka Mulenga and Zambian High Commissioner to Mozambique Lloyd Himaambo among other members of staff at Zambian embassy in Maputo.
President Hichilema proceeded to State House later in the day for the official welcoming formalities where he was honoured with a 21 cannon salute and later inspected a guard of honor mounted by the Mozambican defense forces in his honour.
While at State House, President Hichilema and his counterpart President Nyusi held private talks in what is called a 1 + 10 meeting, which translates to-the President and 10 other chosen government officials.
During themeetings, the two Presidents discussed matters ranging from peace and security, economics and areas of common interest between the two republics.
It was during this meeting that the government of the Republic of Mozambique announced plans to resume the supply of electricity to Zambia.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said the announced resumption follows upgrades in some energy infrastructure in that country.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, President Hichilema and I are committed to promoting the operationalisation of regional programmes such as the industrialisation strategies and its roadmaps which seeks to promote opportunities for our people,” President Nyusi said.
And President Hichilema called for more joint business ventures between Zambia and Mozambique saying this was good for the growth of the economies of the two countries.
President Hichilema said Zambia and Mozambique have a lot to share and learn from each other economically, especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism and mining.
He said joint ventures also help to bond nations stating that African countries must begin to look for solutions within before seeking for outside interventions.
President Hichilema said Africa is blessed with arable Land, good weather and favourable conditions for agriculture stating that no citizen from the region should be seen going without food.
During the same meeting, Zambia and Mozambique signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the area of media improvement.
The MoU was signed between the Ministries of Information and Media of Zambia and the Ministry of Cabinet Information of Mozambique.
Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo signed on behalf of Zambia while Mozambique’s Foreign Affairs Minister Veronica Macamo signed on behalf of her country.
The signed MoU sought to foster cooperation in the field of policy and development between Zambia and Mozambique.
President Hichilema was honoured with the status of free man of the city of Maputo by the Maputo Municipality.
This was for his distinguished leadership anchored on the respect for democracy, human rights and upholding of the rule of law.
Having rapped up his first day with astate banquet held in his honour, President Hichilema accompanied by first lady Mutinta Hichilema on the second day visited the Mozambique Heroes square to lay wreaths on the grave of Mozambique’s founding President Samora Machel who served as President of Mozambique from 1975 when the country got its independence until his death in airplane accidentin 1986.
President Hakainde Hichilema later visited the Central Thermopower plant run by the Mozambique Electricity Company which transforms natural gas into electricity.
Hepointed out that stable power supply is paramount for any economy saying African governments must begin to create synergies aimed at boosting critical sectors such as the energy sector.
“I believe that as a continent, if we begin to produce a surplus in the energy sector, we can be more independent as nations,” President Hichilema said.
He pointed out that Zambia will continue to engage and learn from those that have already walked the path of an improved energy sector which will be a catalyst to job creation among citizens especially the youth.
He said the African region must not run short of energy as it is endowed with the resources such as gas and hydro which is readily available in Zambia, Mozambique and the rest of other African countries
President Hichilema discouraged African countries from borrowing for mere expenditure but that borrowing should be for investments such as setting up of an electricity power plant which will invariably have a return on investment.
The Company’s electrical Engineer Nilza Mazivila who was on hand to guide the President on his tour said the plant had an installed capacity of 106 megawatts of power.
Zambia’s energy ministerPeter Kapala spoke about plans for gas and petroleum pipelines from Mozambique to Zambia.
Before leaving Maputo President Hichilemamet Zambians living in Mozambique.
On his third and final day in Mozambique, President Hichilema and the first lady undertook a 1,150 kilometre journey from Maputo to the country’scommercial capital of Beira.
Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique after Maputo and is situated in the SOFALA province.
This is where the Beira Port is found, which Zambia relies on for her transportation of imports such as petroleum products and fertilizer among other products.
In 2022 alone Zambia received 740, 000 tons of fuel through the port of Beira.
President Hichilema saw it fit to visit this place to appreciate the level of investment and see how Zambia can further benefits from this port.
Here, the President was led on a conducted tour of the three terminals among them the fuel terminal, general cargo terminal and the containerised terminal.
In order to boost trade between the two countries,President Hichilema and President Nyusi attended the Mozambique-Zambia business forum in Beira.
250 exhibitors from Zambia and Mozambique attended the forum with Zambia being represented by 16 exhibitors drawn from the mining, services, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
At the forum,held under the theme “Accelerating Trade and Investment between Mozambique and Zambia,the Heads of State said time had come for African countries to begin exporting finished products as opposed to exporting products in raw form as this deprives nations of the much needed jobs through creation of industries.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi called for enhanced trade between Zambia and Mozambique taking advantage of the two nations geographical locations.
President Nyusi said his country is keen on learning best practices in the mining sector from Zambia.
“Mr President, we take recognition that as Zambia you have more experience than us in running mines hence our desire to learn from you,” President Nyusi said.
And President Hichilema on the other hand called on African countries to begin trading in finished products noting that African economies are losing revenue and jobs in exporting raw materials.
The two Heads of States also witnessed the signing of two memoranda of understanding in the area of trade and investment as well cooperativeengagements.
As President Hichilema flew back home to Zambia, results of his visit will surely be evident as the two countries embark on actualising the agreements made during the three-day long visit. – ZANIS