East Africa

Hichilema in Tanzania for first visit

By APOLINARI TAIRO


Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema arrived in Tanzania mid-morning Tuesday for a two-day state visit to strengthen bilateral ties, key among them joint infrastructure projects.

He was received by his host President Samia Suluhu Hassan, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam and accorded a military parade.

In a statement on Monday, Zambia Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo said the visit aims to enhance “trade, investment and infrastructure development”.

“This visit is highly significant as Tanzania remains a strategic partner as a link for transportation in the southern region for both freight and passengers through the eastern African seaport of Dar es Salaam,” said Mr Kakubo.

In bilateral talks at State House Dar es Salaam, the two leaders are expected to agree on revamping the Chinese-built, 46-year-old Tanzania Zambia Railways (Tazara), the modernisation of the 1,710km Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (Tazama) pipeline. The presidents will also discuss the Tunduma-Nakonde one-stop border post, the busiest entry point linking Tanzania and southern African states.

President Hichilema will also tour the Dar es Salaam port, the electric standard gauge railway (SGR) main terminus in Dar, Tazama station in Kigamboni and the Tazara headquarters.

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Tazara, which runs from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia, was built in 1976 as a symbol of early China-Africa friendship, with the Chinese providing the financing and supervising the construction of a 1067mm gauge.

Read: Will expansion help Tazara get back on track?

Tazama, which runs from Dar es Salaam to Ndola through the southern highlands of Tanzania, was built in 1968 to feed Zambia with crude oil imports after the Rhodesia colony (now Zimbabwe) under former prime minister Ian Smith imposed sanctions on Zambia, which was one of the frontline states for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

The Zambian and Tanzanian presidents will also preside over the signing of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in defence and tourism cooperation.

Zambia and Tanzania share strong historical ties in social, political and economic areas and have a common boundary. The two countries are also member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) bloc.

President Hichilema took office last August after defeating the incumbent Edgar Lungu by almost one million votes — a landslide spurred by economic hardship and restricted freedoms under the previous regime.

President Suluhu visited Zambia last year to witness the inauguration of President Hichilema in Lusaka.

This is his first visit to Tanzania, the second country in East Africa, after his visit to Kenya in June.

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