Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema has clarified the reasons behind his government’s ban on maize exports to DR Congo. Hichilema said DR Congo had been illegally buying maize from Zambian farms, which made Lusaka impose the ban earlier in April, causing a shortage and price hikes in areas like Haut-Katanga, Kasai and Maniema, among others. “We want to trade formally,” Hichilema said. “This issue of our neighbours entering our country and directly buying maize from the fields is illegal. We have asked our neighbours who are short of food to place an order, formally.” ALSO READ: Macron to DR Congo leaders: Do not look for culprits outside your country Following high-level talks with Kinshasa, Hichilema said, Zambia received a formal order from DR Congo. In April DR Congo’s deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, Vital Kamerhe, said the issue of Lusaka’s maize export ban was due to Zambia’s own local shortage and climatic conditions that affected agricultural production in the Southern African region. Hichilema said the Congolese authorities were also asked to pay the money using Zambian banks, instead of sending it to “offshore centres,” and “creating distortions on the foreign exchange market.” Border issue The Congolese officials had blamed Zambia for closing their shared border and causing long queues of trucks from the Southern African region. The minister of finance, Nicholas Kazadi, said the Zambian president was not aware of the issue. However, Hichilema said the issue of long queues of trucks resulted from DR Congo’s violation of an agreement to open the border twenty four hours, every day, whereas Zambia promoted non-stop borders. “But the border [on the Congo side] only runs for four or five hours,” he said, adding that one truck driver died in the queue. He said the issue had been referred to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).