The Sunday Mail
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday met a special envoy from the Republic of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, who delivered a request for support to lobby for the removal of an international arms embargo imposed on the country by the United Nations (UN).
The special envoy, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who is South Sudan’s Presidential Affairs Minister, paid a courtesy call on the President at State House in Harare where they also discussed strengthening diplomatic and economic co-operation between the two countries.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Dr Benjamin said the arms embargo was frustrating the country’s efforts to implement a peace pact signed in 2018 to end years of civil war in South Sudan.
“I am here as a special envoy of President Salva Kiir and I brought a special letter from our president and his government to His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” he said.
“We are seeking support from the President of Zimbabwe through institutions like SADC, African Union and the United Nations because the UN has had an arms embargo on the Republic of South Sudan.”
Dr Benjamin said while the peace agreement required the South Sudanese government to form a unified army, efforts to do so were being frustrated because the country cannot purchase military hardware.
“This arms embargo is posing a lot of difficulties to the implementation of the peace process that we have just signed,” he said.
“There is a security arrangement where we are forming a new unified army. We have already trained over 53 000 troops, but because of the arms embargo we are not able to purchase the arms that these people need.
“This actually hampers the implementation of the peace process in our country.”
Dr Benjamin congratulated President Mnangagwa on his election victory in 2018 and said President Kiir failed to grace the inauguration because he was attending to pressing domestic issues.
“I brought the congratulations of my president to the leadership of President Mnangagwa,” he said.
“He (President Kiir) could not attend the inauguration because we were involved with a lot of internal crises.”
Dr Benjamin acknowledged Zimbabwe’s role in helping South Sudan attain independence.
“We also came because Zimbabwe, to the people of South Sudan, was like a headquarters for our liberation struggle, like the ANC and like SWAPO.
“We thought that we should also expand our relations in areas of investment, in areas of trade and education,” he said.
“Already, over 150 students have graduated from universities in Zimbabwe and now they have gone home and are doing their best.
“There are also a lot of Zimbabweans in the United Nations peacekeeping forces, so we thank the Government of Zimbabwe for this contribution and for the good things they are doing in our country.”
Dr Benjamin invited President Mnangagwa to visit South Sudan to help foster a spirit of Pan-Africanism and solidarity between the two nations.
“This underscores the great relationship that the Government, the leadership and the people of Zimbabwe has had with the people of South Sudan,” he said.
“We got the greatest support during the liberation days and today we are the newest nation on earth and our president was thanking the President of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe for their great contribution towards our dignity and freedom.”
The United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo and a several other restrictive measures on South Sudan in July 2018 citing alleged government-sponsored human rights abuses since the beginning of the civil war in 2013.
The measures are set to be reviewed in July this year.