Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said Zimbabwe, Zambia and his country have agreed to partner on Kazungula Bridge which was officially commissioned on 10 May 2021.
In his speech at the official opening, Masisi said:
_I am happy to note that the Republic of Zimbabwe and ourselves and Zambia have agreed in principle to a partner in this project (Kazungula). And our officials are working and will work increasingly faster and harder to complete the remaining works for Zimbabwe….._
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Speaking at the same event, president Emmerson Mnangagwa expressed Zimbabwe’s “commitment to be part of this project for the benefit of our SADC region”.
There has been confusion over whether Zimbabwe does co-own the project or not after Mnangagwa had claimed it is while names on the project suggest that only Zambia and Botswana are owners.
Zimbabwe was initially a partner but its two colleagues chose to do it alone after allegations that Zimbabwe wanted to sabotage the project as it was a huge potential threat to revenue raised through the Beitbridge Border Post.
The official position, however, during the late President Robert Mugabe’s days was that Zambia did not share a land border with Botswana.
The sentiment was the same during the colonial era when Rhodesia and South Africa, which administered South-West Africa (Namibia), declared the route illegal.
Following the demise of the late former President Robert Mugabe in 2017, Zimbabwe sought to rejoin its neighbours and the principals agreed “in principle” to partner with their neighbour.
Zimbabwe intends to join in the bridge’s last phase and has offered to pay for a third of the $259.3 million project. Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister Fredrick Shava told journalists:
_We have agreed with our counterparts, the government of Botswana, the government of Zambia, we are now part of the Kazungula bridge and subsequently, we are going to be paying our portion of the development of that bridge._
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