President Lazarus Chakwera has pledged Malawi’s commitment to continue working closely with Zambia for the mutual benefit of citizens of the two neighbouring nations.
He expressed the commitment yesterday during a media briefing he co-addressed with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe. The two leaders also led their respective countries in bilateral talks.
Chakwera said he and Hichilema share a common conviction that the development as well as progress of Malawi and Zambia are linked, thereby calling for the two countries to work together to improve the plight of their citizens.
He said they agreed on several issues, including supporting cross-border trade and simplifying border controls.
“We have agreed to fast track the removal of all bottlenecks to cross border trading, including a review of the Simplified Trade Regime [STR] to expand the list of eligible products traded within this framework,” Chakwera said.
He further said they have also agreed to harmonise and simplify border controls by jointly constructing the one stop border post at Mchinji-Mwami Border which they will jointly commission early next year.
However, Chakwera noted that this kind of bilateral cooperation is only possible because of the solidarity and assistance that Zambia has extended to Malawi.
Malawi and Zambia are currently working together in areas such as immigration, management of national parks and wildlife to prevent poaching, sharing of intelligence, securing their shared borders through joint patrols as well as sensitisation of the border community in the fight against human trafficking.
On his part, Hichilma highlighted the importance of continuing to grow the two countries’ ties as neighbors, adding that they will encourage business to business links, seeing to it that investors from Malawi and Zambia take joint risks to exploit opportunities that exist between the two countries.
He was also positive that the commissioning of the Mchinji-Mwami One Stop Border Post will entrench the much-needed business-to-business linkage between the two countries.
The Zambian President said the completion of any outstanding works at the border post will be accelerated to enhance government to government relationships.
He said: “Business to business relationships anchored on economic and social success of the people of Malawi and Zambia will sustain our democracies which are threatened today because of alternatives others may view as better in terms of managing our countries.
“Democracy is the way to go, but sustainability of democracy lies in us achieving economic success to offer opportunities for our young people for jobs, for business and better healthcare. And we can make it easier by collaborating even more.”
Commenting on Hichilema’s visit, international relations expert Eddie Kalonga said it is important for the two countries to foster their existing relationship.
“As a matter of fact, Malawi and Zambia share the same historical backgrounds; they have common values and beliefs and the boundaries that exist are only artificial. There are many reasons why the two countries need to enhance cooperation including trade enhancement,” he said.
Malawi and Zambia have had a close history for a long time, sharing common culture, geography, economics, values, and language among other things.
They were also part of the three-nation Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland alongside Zimbabwe.