Senior officials from Botswana and Zambia are working with Zimbabwe on how to include the country in the US$260 million Kazungula Bridge project.
Zimbabwe had initially been expected to take part in the project during its formative years in the early 2000s, but late president, Robert Mugabe pulled his country out apparently as he was unconvinced of its benefits. Other sources have said Mugabe’s sour relationship with former President Ian Khama contributed to the late leader’s exit.
Officiating at the launch of the Bridge today, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that work was underway to include Zimbabwe in the landmark project.
“I’m happy to note that Zimbabwe has agreed in principle to be a partner in this project and our officials are working faster and harder to complete the remaining work,” Masisi said.
“Hopefully we will enrol Namibia also.”
Earlier during the launch ceremony, Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa said his country was eager to join the project.
“I thank my brothers presidents Masisi and Lungu who in 2018 extended an invitation to Zimbabwe to be part of this grand project.
“In the fullness of time, Zimbabwe will be part of this landmark project that accelerates our regional integration efforts.”
Mnangagwa toured the Kazungula Bridge project during its construction in March 2018
Officials on social media have hinted that the country could join by paying into the debt obligations Botswana and Zambia have towards the financiers who supported the US$260 million project.
Last week, Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe in 2017, was at pains to explain how his country exited the project.
“Initially, it was a three-state bridge, but for some reasons which cannot be made public, it became a two-nation bridge,” he said, during a ceremony to commission road works near the Zambezi River.
“Upon the coming into the office of the second administration (post-Mugabe), Zimbabwe has come on board and now the bridge is now owned by three countries.
“And so we shall also be upgrading the road from Kazungula to Victoria Falls.”
The Kazungula Bridge comprises a 930-metre road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River near the quadripoint between Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It replaces the inefficient and even dangerous pontoon being used.
The project also includes two one stop border posts in both countries, which ease the transit of goods and people.