Zambia, Zimbabwe: Preserving a legacy of unity, co-operation
The historical camaraderie between Zambia and Zimbabwe is one that has always been admired, not only within the confines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, but also across the entire African continent.
To many, the two nations have long been perceived as Siamese twins, sharing deep-rooted Pan-Africanist ideologies, visions of a united Africa, and resistance against undue external influences.
It is thus surprising, if not disheartening, to witness the strain that has emerged between the two nations during the tenure of President Hakainde Hichilema in Zambia.
The names Nevers Mumba and Joseph Kalimbwe have surfaced, with allegations of being instigators of hostilities towards Zimbabwe.
One may ponder: What has changed?
There is an old African saying that says: “When two brothers fight, it’s the neighbour that enjoys the show.”
Within the fabric of African unity, it is crucial for countries, especially those sharing strong historical ties, to avoid public spats and misunderstandings that can be exploited by external players with ulterior motives.
The resurgence of Zimbabwe’s economy under the guidance of President Mnangagwa is nothing short of remarkable.
Faced with challenges such as sanctions and international pressures, the country’s recovery trajectory seems to defy expectations.
Its economic strides, notably surpassing Zambia in certain sectors, are evidence of its resilience and adaptability.
With a renewed vigour, Zimbabwe has showcased considerable progress in areas ranging from infrastructure development to commerce, capturing regional and global attention.
However, with such success comes a complex interplay of reactions.
The tourism sector, for instance, has witnessed Zimbabwe registering a higher number of visitors than Zambia.
These achievements, while worthy of celebration, have seemingly cast a shadow of competition rather than camaraderie.
One cannot help, but wonder if Zimbabwe’s economic renaissance is being viewed through the lens of envy instead of being seen as an inspiring testament to what African nations can achieve even against significant odds.
Mumba and Kalimbwe, along with other regional figures, must recognise and understand the underlying dynamics of relationships between neighbouring states.
Competition, while inherent to nation-states striving for progress, should always be grounded in constructiveness.
When individuals or entities engage in actions that intentionally tarnish the image of a fellow nation for ephemeral gains, they inadvertently harm the integrity and well-being of both involved nations.
The long-term consequences of such actions can be far-reaching, undermining years of diplomatic efforts and partnerships.
Furthermore, these negative strategies do not just stop at bilateral repercussions.
They significantly erode the foundational mutual trust that binds countries together.
Such divisive tactics cast an unwarranted shadow over the united endeavours of the SADC nations.
The primary vision of SADC is to cultivate a cohesive, collaborative regional environment, where each member nation thrives while supporting its neighbours.
Actions that go against this spirit not only hinder individual nations but also stunt the collective growth and unity of the entire region.
It is essential to differentiate between healthy competition and malicious intent.
If the root cause of the current tension stems from the perceived threat of Zimbabwe’s resurgence, then it is vital for leaders to remember that one nation’s success can be beneficial to its neighbours.
Instead of being threatened, there is an opportunity for mutual learning and shared growth.
The concerns about Mumba and Kalimbwe’s alleged actions should not overshadow the age-old ties between the two countries.
If their actions are indeed detrimental to the bilateral relations, it becomes incumbent upon President Hichilema to ensure that individual ambitions do not override the national interest.
Such introspection is essential for both nations to move forward amicably. It is vital to respect the sovereignty of each nation.
While open dialogue is encouraged, there is a fine line between constructive criticism and unwarranted interference.
Both nations have a rich history, with stalwarts like President Kenneth Kaunda, Cdes Joshua Nkomo, and Robert Mugabe laying the foundations for co-operation.
Their legacies are too precious to be jeopardised by fleeting disagreements or misunderstandings.
Again, the current tiff between Zambia and Zimbabwe does not serve the interests of either nations or the broader African continent.
It is a momentary hiccup in a long-standing relationship that has weathered much more significant storms.
Both nations have more to gain from unity and cooperation than from discord.
The shared spirit of Pan-Africanism, coupled with mutual respect and understanding, is the path forward.
For the sake of the future generations and in honour of the past leaders who envisaged a united front, Zambia and Zimbabwe must find common ground and rekindle their legendary bond.
The African dream of unity, prosperity, and self-reliance is too important to be sidelined by transient disagreements.
The SADC region and the continent at large will undoubtedly benefit from their harmonious collaboration.