Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ADB puts money on controversial Kazungula Bridge

Zambia has received an African Development Bank loan for a feasibility study of the Kazungula Bridge to span the Zambezi River near the border shared by Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, marking the end of a three way border dispute between the three neighbours.

The three countries have, for quite sometime, been locked in a border dispute along the Kazungula frontier, delaying construction of the multi million pula bridge.

The stand off was finally resolved last year after numerous attempts by President Festus Mogae, Presidential Affairs Minister Phandu Skelemani and Foreign Affairs Minister Mompati Merafhe’s attempt to resolve the issue with Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe had failed.

Zimbabwe wanted in on the bilateral project between Zambia and Botswana and, in 2003 forced the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan to withhold a $60 million loan to Zambia because it claimed the Zambian land around the area. The Zimbabwean government was demanding to be part of the project in which Mitsubishi Corporation was to finance the construction of the bridge on the Zambian side. The bridge will rest on some parts of Zimbabwe soil to connect directly to Botswana because the beacons installed on the Southern bank of the Zambazi River made it impossible for Zambia to connect directly to Botswana. Zimbabwe insisted that for the bridge to pass through their country, they would have to be included as third partners in the project or else they would stop it. At the height of the impasse, the Zambian government retaliated by stopping a Zimbabwean road passing through Zambia to connect to Botswana. The government of Japan was also willing to give a grant to Zambia for the same project but rescinded its decision partly because of the dispute. The dispute took a twist when Zimbabwe turned around and claimed part of the Kazungula on the Botswana side.

The dispute was however resolved when Botswana and Zambia agreed to let Zimbabwe in as a third partner. Zambia this week confirmed that it had received a loan from the ADB for the project.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.