DEFENCE Minister Ambrose Lufuma says there is no conflict between Zambia and Namibia following a shooting incident that occurred at Katima Mulilo Border Post involving Namibian police and some Zambians.

In a ministerial statement, Wednesday, Lufuma said the two countries continued to enjoy a cordial relationship.

“Let me begin by informing this August House that the incident that happened at Katima Mulilo Border Post on 26th October, 2021 does not in any way amount to a conflict between Zambia and Namibia as the two nations enjoy a warm and cordial relationship,” he said.

Lufuma also explained the circumstances which led to the shooting incident.

“Madam Speaker, as the Ministry of Defence, we are in receipt of a report on what happened on the material day of 26 October 2021 at approximately 09:00 hours. On this day, Zambian illegal money changers at Katima Mulilo Border Post in Sesheke District rioted against the Namibia Police for not allowing them to operate or trade at No Man’s Land. The incident occurred when Namibia Police Officers tried to push back the money changers and vendors in the No Man’s Land between Zambia and Namibia who extended their trade on the Namibia Border,” Lufuma said.

“However, this was not received well by the money changers who decided to retaliate by throwing stones at the Namibian Police Officers. As a result, two Police officers were injured and three Zambians were arrested. During the pursuit of the money changers, the Namibia Police Officers fired three shots close to the Zambian border and an empty cartridge was picked on the Zambian side. The money changers during the altercation confiscated handcuffs and a reflective jacket from one of the Namibia Police officers which were later returned.”

Lufuma said the Namibian Police officers erred when they fired shots close to the Zambian side.

“Madam Speaker, You may wish to know that the Sesheke District Joint Operations Committee (DJOC) was informed and rushed to the scene to intervene together with their Namibia Counterparts led by the regional commander for the Namibia Police of Zambezi Region. The matter was then resolved amicably through a fruitful meeting between the two parties. Madam Speaker, during the joint meeting between the Sesheke DJOC and the Namibian Police of Zambezi Region, the following observations were made: (i) The Zambian illegal money changers were trading on the No Man’s Land and extended their trading to the Namibian gate, which was wrong; (ii) The Namibia Police Officers who crossed the No Man’s Land and fired three gunshots in the air, where an empty cartridge was picked on the Zambia Side were at fault,” he said.

“The Namibian Police Regional Commander for Zambezi Region admitted that his Police Officers erred when they fired shots close to the Zambian side and indicated that they would be disciplined; and (iv) It was also observed that smuggling activities were rife at the No Man’s Land especially by Vendors and Taxi drivers.”

Lufuma said the two countries had agreed that no illegal changers and vendors were allowed to trade on No Man’s Land with immediate effect.

“Madam Speaker, further, this joint meeting made the following resolutions: (i) No illegal money changers and vendors should be allowed to trade on the No Man’s Land with immediate effect; taxi drivers especially those carrying heavy luggage to and from either sides needed to be controlled and monitored by Customs and Immigration departments of both countries; and both countries also needed to deploy Police Officers in the No Man’s Land to curb trading activities,” said Lufuma.

“Madam Speaker, as I conclude, I would like to assure the nation that the outcome of the (DJOC) meeting with the Namibian counterparts was beneficial as it gave a platform for both countries to express their views on issues of security concern. The issue is settled and there is peace and order in the area. Lastly, may I reiterate that the Zambian government remains committed and still stands ready to continue resolving all border issues with our neighbours in a peaceful manner.”