- Wants to partake in the P25 bn Zambia, Botswana bridge which Mugabe gave a middle finger
- Mugabe warned Khama, Lungu not to cross his borderlines
- Trouble as Mnangagwa pleads for Zimbabwe incorporation in the 50 percent complete bridge
The new president of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa has given Botswana and Zambia an ultimatum to incorporate his country in the fifty percent complete P25 billion Kazungula rail and road bridge which was given a middle finger by his predecessor Robert Mugabe,a plea they rejected.
The two countries have rejected the plea on the basis that it is too late.
Transport Ministry, Permanent Secretary, Kabelo Ebineng informed this publication that the three countries Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana president visited Kazungula and an explanation was given to Mnangagwa that it was impossible to incorporate Zimbabwe at this time.
“Almost everything has been done and incorporating Zimbabwe at this time would have complicated things. We agreed that at a bilateral level Zimbabwe will construct a border a border in and out of Botswan,” he said.
Mnangagwa is obviously relying on the promise that his administration is cleansing Zimbabwe’s international diplomatic and economic image complicated by his predecessor.
Mugabe’s administration pulled out of the project mid-way on grounds that Zimbabwe had nothing to benefit from it, forcing Botswana, Zambi and Namibia to change designs of the bridge which was supposed to go straight into Zimbabwe – but now goes westwards into Namibia before curving into Zambia.
The bridge was supposed to be 600m long but ended up extending to about a kilometre due to Mugabe’s resistance.
In an interview with this publication in Kasane, the project coordinator said there are consultations with Zimbabwean authorities but said it is however a matter that can be discussed with higher authorities. He confirmed that there was a recent visit to the project by delegations from the four SADC countries. The delegations that were inspecting the progress project were headed by former president Ian Khama, Mnangagwa and Zambia president Edgar Lungu.
It is believed within SADC that Zimbabwe pulled out owing to Mugabe’s frequent clashes with Khama who was on his neck to the last day calling for his immediate retirement.
Mnangagwa is quoted in Zimbabwean media after the visit to Kasane saying, “Well, that project has been on for the past 10 years and at the time of its conception there were three countries – Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia and they agreed on that bridge.
“Down the line Zimbabwe pulled out as a result of some dispute at the time about the boundary but Zambia and Botswana decided to go ahead with the project.
“So, the project has been on for the past 10 years and as you have seen, lots of progress has been made. Now Zimbabwe has decided to come on board and Zambia and Botswana have agreed to have Zimbabwe come on board.”
Clarifying the misconception that Zimbabwe had nothing to benefit from the Kazungula Bridge project, Mnangagwa said “The same facilities of a one-stop border post on the Zambia and Botswana side will now be constructed on the Zimbabwe side, and Zimbabwe will contribute to the loan in the same manner Zambia and Botswana are doing. It is a done deal and the three brothers are together again after the 10-year period of isolation,” he said.
Construction of the bridge is being funded through a co-financing arrangement with the African Development Bank and the European Union-Africa Infrastructure Fund Trust.
The request by Mnangagwa however could not benefit Zimbabwe as initially envisaged as almost everything was done. The minor changes to be adopted will not be much impactful.