Zimbabwe lags behind in AU border reaffirmation exercise 

Source: Zimbabwe lags behind in AU border reaffirmation exercise | The Chronicle July 8, 2019

Zimbabwe lags behind in AU border reaffirmation exerciseMrs Mildred Chiri

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter

ZIMBABWE is lagging behind in terms of conclusively reaffirming its borders with neighbouring countries to avoid potential conflicts arising from the exploitation of resources and other disagreements that may affect good relations. 

The border reaffirmation exercise is in line with the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) that requires all member states of the continental body to complete all international boundaries reaffirmations by the year 2023. 

This was revealed by the Auditor General, Mrs Mildred Chiri in her 2018 annual report tabled before Parliament last week.

The AUBP was adopted in 2007 during the 8th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa under the theme ‘preventing conflicts and promoting integration’ and one of its ambitious goals was ‘the delimitation and demarcation of African boundaries’ where this had not yet taken place by 2017. This deadline was extended to 2023 following a programme review in 2016.

Mrs Chiri warned that delays in reaffirming boundaries was likely to give rise to more conflicts along the border areas and urged the Government to speed up the process.

“Taking long to reaffirm the boundaries may give rise to more conflicts along the border areas with neighbouring countries,” she said.

The Government through the Surveyor-General Department, had planned to reaffirm at least 200km kilometres of its international boundaries every year, but it only managed to reaffirm 53km, which translate to 27 percent of the planned annual output. 

Mrs Chiri attributed the delay to lack of coordination in resource mobilisation among the countries involved. 

“Despite the fact that the department managed to get $119 941, which is 70 percent, out of the total budget of $172 508, the output did not correspond to the resources utilised during the year under review. This was caused by lack of coordination in resource mobilisation among the countries involved as the reaffirmation cost was shared between the neighbouring countries,” she said. 

Mrs Chiri said there were no reaffirmations done on the South African and Zambian borders. The two countries have 225km and 798km respectively.

For the Botswana boundary only 542 km was reaffirmed out of a total of 841km while the Mozambican boundary, which has the largest chunk of 1 134km had only 43 km reaffirmed. 

“For Mozambican boundary the other cause for slow reaffirmation was partly because most parts of the boundary are landmine infested,” said Mrs Chiri.

She urged the parent ministry to engage the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs to expedite the removal of land mines on the Mozambican boundary.

“Life might be lost along the Mozambican boundary which is land mine infested, if the land mines are not removed in time. The Surveyor-General Department should ensure that the boundaries are reaffirmed in time, for the country to meet the AUBP deadline of 2023. Co-operation of the department and the Ministry of Defence should also be considered in order to expedite the removal of land mines,” said Mrs Chiri.

Out of the total of 2 998 km of the Zimbabwean boundary only 585km, which is 20 percent, were reaffirmed since the inception of the AUBP programme in the country in 2011. The programme was launched as part of the efforts of African States to meet the challenges related to the management of the borders inherited from colonisation.

Meanwhile, Mrs Chiri said the Surveyor-General Department planned to undertake 1 000 A2 farm surveys of which only 494 farm surveys were done while 1 000 township surveys were planned but only seven were undertaken by the department. 

“Lack of capacity by the Surveyor-General to survey A2 farms and townships will have a negative effect on economic growth and the 2030 vision of Zimbabwe to achieve middle income status,” she said.— @mashnets