LUSAKA (The Southern African Times) – Zambia, which closed its border with Tanzania on Sunday to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, could soon reach an agreement with its neighbour over the passage of cargo trucks carrying copper and other crucial goods, a provincial minister said.
President Edgar Lungu ordered the closure after the border town of Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, the highest number registered by Africa’s No.2 copper producer in a single day.
The border was closed to cargo, but on Wednesday talks were ongoing over how to allow trucks to move once again.
“The movement of cargo will commence as soon as we conclude negotiations we are having with our counterparts,” Muchinga Province Minister Malozo Sichone told Reuters.
Sichone had previously said priority would be given to trucks bringing essential goods such as fuel, medical supplies, and food into Zambia.
“By today we could conclude,” Sichone said on Wednesday.
A logistics official, however, said the border was only expected to reopen for metal exports this weekend.
His exit would clear the way for a solution to a political crisis that erupted late last year, when he and his current wife were accused by police of murdering his former wife nearly three years ago. They both deny the charges.
It is unclear when he will step down, although parliament has already provisionally named Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro as his replacement.
A report by the U.N. humanitarian aid coordination agency two days ago had put COVID-19 case figures for East and southern Africa at almost 18,000, with all countries affected except Lesotho.